Sunday, July 31, 2016

No available lease money for Fiji kids

With the system of counting every Fiji person in a tribe that leases out part of their land,  it means teenagers and children as well, if they each open an account.  However the PM reckons children ought to wait until they are 18. Wouldn't the money be useful to pay school fees?
The new system hasn't worked well for some families. Whereas the old system meant more for leaders who needed the money for their leadership obligations, now a child can be reckoned to get the same as their chief - perhaps their grandfather!  Lease money now comes in bits of $40 or so instead of $100s or $1000s to be shared by the decisions of the mataqali who met to discuss the need for school fees, boats, housing, etc - a shared decision for the betterment of the family network.
from Fiji Times:

PM stands his ground

Losalini Bolatagici
Monday, August 01, 2016
PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says his Government is empowering indigenous Fijian landowners by channelling funds from their leases for investment that will be made available when they are 18 years old.
This comes in response to the Opposition's statement condemning Government's decision of withholding more than 30,000 iTaukei minors lease monies owed to them by the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) for investment.
The Opposition questioned on what mandate the TLTB funds were invested and why there was no prior consultation with landowning units.
TLTB announced last week that $12.5 million would be deposited in a trust for 30,634 young landowners registered in the Vola ni Kawa Bula (the register of all indigenous landowners).
"This is the difference between my Government and previous governments. In the past, someone else decided how lease monies would be distributed," Mr Bainimarama said.
"But we have empowered individual iTaukei and given them options and choices. Given them their fair shares of the proceeds from the lease of their lands.
"My political opponents want that power to be taken away again.
"But I believe the vast majority of the iTaukei want to be able to choose for themselves.
"I am determined to give them that choice, going one step further now to protect the interests of iTaukei children and ensure that they too obtain their fair share when they come of age.
"We want to provide them with a springboard for the future."
Speaking on behalf of the Opposition, Niko Nawaikula said the policy was against customary practice and was, therefore, in breach of the landowners' group rights to look after their resources and affairs independently, especially to be consulted and to give their prior and informed consent.
And for that reason, Mr Bainimarama yesterday called on indigenous landowners not to let his political opponents tell them they were worse off under his government.
"Because the truth is that our prospects have never been better," he said.
"We have our ownership of the land guaranteed in our Constitution for all time."
Mr Bainimarama said the iTaukei were not only secure, but they had more opportunity than at any other time in Fijian history.
"Now we are ensuring that our children and those still to be born benefit from our ownership of the land by having their share invested so they can use it when they become adults," he said.
Mr Bainimarama revealed the amounts held in trust differed for each young landowner and ranged up to $99,000.
He said the interest earned over time would boost these savings.
"And when the beneficiaries turn 18, the Government will provide them with proper advice to manage the funds most effectively," Mr Bainimarama said.
----------------------  And a second article - from the Fiji Village today, Tuesday..  Niko is correct and Bainimarama is shifting the goalposts regarding Fijian land.
i-Taukei land ownership guaranteed for all time - PM
By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 02/08/2016


Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has called on every i-Taukei in the country not to let his political opponents tell them that the i-Taukei are worse off under the current government.
Bainimarama says the i-Taukei have ownership of their land guaranteed in the constitution for all time.
The Prime Minister says the i-Taukei are not only secure, they have more opportunity than at any other time in Fijian history, and now the government is ensuring that i-Taukei children and those still to be born benefit from their ownership of the land by having their share invested so they can use it when they become adults.
Bainimarama says he is very proud of the initiative that they have announced to provide young i-Taukei landowners with a financial nest egg at the age of 18. This is going to come from the lease monies owed to them that the government is investing on their behalf and they can access when they reach voting age.
The i-Taukei Land Trust Board is depositing $12.5 million in trust for 30,634 young landowners registered in the Vola ni Kawa Bula.
The amount currently held in trust differs for each young landowner and ranges up to $99,000. The interest earned over time will boost these savings. And when the beneficiaries turn 18, the Government will also provide them with proper advice to manage the funds most effectively.
Bainimarama says in the past, someone else decided how lease monies would be distributed but they have now empowered individual i-Taukei and given them options.
He says that his political opponents want that power to be taken away again but he believes the vast majority of the i-Taukei want to be able to choose for themselves.
Meanwhile SODELPA parliamentarian, Niko Nawaikula says the Prime Minister and i-Taukei Land Trust Board should know that the 30,000 i-Taukei minors are not landowners.
Nawaikula says it is the mataqali and yavusa that are the landowners, and it has its own decision making process so unlike English laws, people cannot say beforehand who is entitled to this or that. He says the landowning unit must first sit down according to customary practice to decide who is entitled to the lease money.
Nawaikula also says that the Prime Minister should get out of the i-Taukei Land Trust Board.

He says Bainimarama should not be there as TLTB Chairman and he should not be the appointing authority of its Board.

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