22 Mar 2018

Heated debate in Samoa's Parliament over land bill

4:14 pm on 22 March 2018

Samoa's deputy prime minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa, has attacked several MPs for speaking against a bill to alienate customary land.

She was responding to criticism during debate on the Customary Land Alienation Bill in Parliament.

Fiame said it's irresponsible for MPs to go against the proposed changes to land laws.

She said one of the bill's main aims was to allow more developments for the benefit of families as well as the whole country.

But one of the ruling party MPs, Faumuina Wayne Fong, warned the government of the influx of Chinese investors.

He reminded the government that 20 percent of customary land had earlier been sold by matais and families to foreigners out of poverty.

Eighty percent of land in Samoa was still what's known as "customary" - owned by the country's indigenous communities.

The Bill aims to strengthen the provision relating to leasing such land and facilitate mortgaging while protecting ownership rights.

Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister, FIame Naomi Mata'afa.

Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister, FIame Naomi Mata'afa. Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox