15 Dec 2016

Claims of a foreign land grab in Fiji denied

4:53 pm on 15 December 2016

A non-resident landowner is rejecting the Fiji government's claims of a land grab by foreigners.

Sigatoka River, Fiji.

Sigatoka River, Fiji. Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

Under changes to the Land Sales Act foreign landowners face hefty fines or imprisonment if they don't build a 120-thousand US dollar house within two years.

Fiji's deputy prime minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the legislation was introduced two years ago because foreign owners had been leaving land undeveloped for decades.

New Zealander Tai Rossi said he and many landowners bought for their retirement, not to make money.

"We never bought the property as a land grab. We've bought an acre and it was always there for our retirement, to go there and retire there. Even if we were offered a decent amount of money we were unlikely to ever sell it for a profit. We always wanted it for our use and for our children," said Tai Rossi.

Mr Rossi said the retrospective nature of the law means he has lost confidence in investing any further money in Fiji.

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