Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs have endorsed eight key outcomes for the "economic advancement" of the majority indigenous people in the country.
The council convened for the first time in 16 years on Bau Island in the Province of Tailevu this week.
While the GCC has been branded racist, promoting ethno-nationalist policies and playing a role in the nation's past political upheavals, the "new GCC" will be for all the races, the leaders say.
iTaukei Affairs minister, Ifereimi Vasu, said the council concluded its meeting on Thursday "with landmark decisions" for the indigenous people - two-thirds of whom live in poverty.
Vasu said the "endorsements" by the GCC means his ministry will now present the outcomes to Cabinet.
"In all aspects of what we are doing is how we can empower the iTaukei in terms of business [and] education," Vasu said.
The current or "standing in" GCC representatives could make decisions according to the iTaukei Affairs (Great Council of Chiefs) Regulations 2023, he said.
"The power for this GCC is for six months. They have the power now to endorse few of the issues that we have discussed."
Responding to a question from RNZ Pacific about how the GCC plans to empower iTaukei people to utilise idle land from expired land leases, he said "compensation" was a major issues for landowners.
"Once they [indigenous landowners] lease out the land, for them to take back the land, they need to pay compensation [and] that was one of the big issues that we have discussed in how we will review the iTaukei land act," he said.
Fiji's indigenous people own 92 percent of all land.
The next special session of the GCC is expected to be held in two months' time.
The outcomes of the meeting:
- A final report by GCC Review Committee, headed by Dr Ratu Jone Baledrokadroka, to be presented at a Special Meeting by the end of July
- Setting up a special fund for development of iTaukei - including reinstating the old lease distribution policy
- Strategic review of iTaukei institutions, including the iTaukei Land Trust Board, iTaukei Land and Fisheries Commission, and iTaukei administrations comprising of iTaukei Affairs Board, provincial, district and village councils
- Endorsed the outcome of the iTaukei Resource Owners forum in March 2023
- Economic empowerment to be a priority for GCC and iTaukei institutions
- An economic empowerment framework for iTaukei implemented by iTaukei Affairs
- Confirmed head of yavusas (tribes) to receive $200 monthly for carrying out their responsibilities
- Endorsed nominees for members of Ratu Sukuna Memorial School Board