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1) What is the role of NLTB in developing Fiji?

The Native Land Trust Board as administrator of the largest tract of landmass in Fiji plays an important and essential role in the development of Fiji. It is required to make available native land that is outside reserve for development. However, in doing this, the NLTB is statutorily required to satisfy itself that the land to be opened up for development will not be required by its native owners during the currency of the lease or license. The Board is required to collect land rentals and distribute them to landowning units according to a formula prescribed by law. NLTB is the body that links investors to landowning units who own the land earmarked for any type of development and it is therefore important for investors to contact the Board if they intend to use native land for development purposes.

2) What is the advantage of having NLTA supercede ALTA as legislation governing agricultural leases over native land?

To the tenant, the term of the lease is not limiting, as there is facility within NLTA to institute rolling leases so long as the landowners do not require the land. Under ALTA the term is rigid at 30 years. On land rentals, NLTA provides for a rental system based on the market value of the land. Under ALTA, rental is based on six percent (6%) of the unimproved capital value of the land. The extent of items eligible for compensation under ALTA is limited to those listed in Schedules I and II of that Act. Further to that, the tenant is required to obtain prior written consent from the landlord before he qualifies for such compensation. Under NLTB improvement may be compensated if they had been expressly approved by the Board.

3) How is land owned in Fiji?

There are three types of land tenure in Fiji. These are Freehold, Stateland and Native land. The freeholder exclusively and privately owns the freehold title. He may dispose of it as he pleases. Stateland comprises Schedule A, Schedule B, State Freehold, State Foreshore and Stateland without Title. Schedule A and Schedule B land are held by the State in trust for indigenous landowners. Fijian communal units commonly referred to as landowning units’ own native land. These may be in the form of a Yavusa (tribe), Mataqali (clan), Tokatoka (family unit), the chief in his titular position or descendants of a chief or a lady.

4) How much land is native land?

Native land comprises 87 per cent (87%) or 1.5 million hectares of the landmass in Fiji. Stateland is nine per cent (9%) or 145,000 hectares. Freehold land comprises eight per cent (8%) or 142,000 hectares.

5) Why should NLTB be retained?

The importance of the NLTB stems from the tasks it has been assigned to carry out under the Native Land Trust Act. Principal among these is the requirement to administer native land for the benefit of the Fijian owner. As native land continues to be opened up for development, it would be cumbersome and irrational to expect a potential investor to visit every single member of the landowning unit for assent to lease. Another problem that may arise is the irregularity of lease conditions. The Board has all the expertise needed by the indigenous landowner to effectively manage his land.

6) Why is it important to establish the Vanua Development Corporation Limited?

There is a need to assist indigenous landowners gain the maximum financial rewards from the use of their land and resources. A mere land rental is not enough. The Fiji Land Development Corporation was established to assist the indigenous landowner setup landowner based companies to development his own resources. The Corporation comprises three separate companies. One will oversee tourism development, another to look into developing the timber industry inclusive of mahogany, pine and natural forests and the third company will look after the land development. Although the Board is directly responsible for its establishment, management staff of the three companies will be recruited from experts in the respective industries.

7) Is NLTB part of government?

No, NLTB is an independent organisation established primarily to administer native land for the indigenous owner. It is not part of government, rather it is a partner of government in the development of Fiji.

8) What is the relationship of NLTB and FAB in developing Fijians?

NLTB is responsible for developing land and land-based resources for the indigenous Fijian while the FAB is responsible for the development of the indigenous person.

9) Why should Schedule A and B land be returned to landowning units?

The State holds these two types of land in trust for the indigenous landowner. Schedule A is land that once belonged to a landowning unit that has become extinct. Schedule B is land that was not claimed during the initial sittings of the Native Land Commission in the early part of the 1900s. Under s.18 of the Native Land Trust Act, the Reserves Commissioner is empowered to allocate these types of state owned land to indigenous landowners who genuinely need more land. The recognition by government and legislation to the reversionary rights of the indigenous landowner to these types of stateland is evidence of government’s trusteeship role in holding such land for the indigenous owner.

 
   
 
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