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FIJI: Chiefs consider land use plan

FIJI: Chiefs consider land use plan
Bune wins backing for land use deal

SUVA: Fiji's Chaudhry government won a major coup yesterday when it got the support of the Great Council of Chiefs on the controversial Land Use Commission proposal, the Daily Post reports.

Following a presentation by Agriculture Minister Poseci Bune, the chiefs accepted his report with the recommendation that the Native Land Trust Board (NLTB) considers the proposal and submits its report to the next meeting of the GCC.

The chiefs' resolution is contrary to the recommendations of the various provincial councils, the majority of which had rejected government's proposed Land Use Commission.

"Mr Bune's report was very well received," chairman Sitiveni Rabuka said. Pressed whether the great council resolution was a departure from those of the provincial councils, Rabuka said it became obvious during Bune's presentation that there had been some misunderstanding on the issue.

"These negative expressions had been made on misunderstanding," Rabuka said.

"It became clear in Mr Bune's presentation that the Land Use Commission is not something new.

"It was first mooted by the late Dr Timoci Bavadra at the Great Council of Chief's meeting at Somosomo in 1986 as a follow on from the Land Development Act passed a year earlier in 1985.

"All I can tell you is that Mr Bune's presentation, which was quite voluminous was very well received, but the chiefs preferred that it be dealt with first by the NLTB," Rabuka said.

He said there was more information in the presentation which should clear any doubt on the issue.

Bune told the meeting that the proposed Land Use Commission was a follow on from two existing [pieces of] legislation - the Land Conservation and Improvement Act and the Land Development Act.

And the submission to the GCC is in keeping with government's undertaking to consult the chiefs and the NLTB first before the legal framework of the proposal is put in place.

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