CAUTION AGAINST INCRASED FIJI LAND RENT

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SUVA, Fiji (December 15, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Fiji's opposition leader, Jai Ram Reddy, says the payment of increased land rent should not be used as a condition for the extension of land leases.

Reddy says he is aware that several state land leases under the Agricultural Landlord and Tenants Act (ALTA) are not being renewed because of disputes over re-assessed rent between the state and the tenants, Radio Fiji reports.

He says a tenant should not be pressured into paying higher rent, adding that many of the expired leases should be extended for another 20 years under ALTA.

The Opposition Leader says the tenants have the right to dispute re-assessed rental and it is the responsibility of the Agricultural Tribunal to settle such cases.

He says tenants should not be blackmailed into paying higher rates by withholding extension.

Most Fiji agricultural land is owned by indigenous Fijians and rented to Fijians of Indian ethnicity for sugar and other farming.

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