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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 12, 1999 - PACNEWS)---The Fiji government plans to do away with the practice instituted by its colonial predecessors, of owning property that it makes available for use by senior government officials.

The government plans to sell 50 state-owned homes in the capital, Suva, expecting to earn US$ 50 million from the sale.

Bids will also be invited for 50 vacant blocks of land, which will be issued 99-year leases.

Lands Minister Ratu Timoci Vesikula said the sale is necessary because administration costs are too high compared to the minimal returns from current leasing arrangements.

The government currently spends about US$ 4 million a year on the properties, while receiving less than US$ 2 million in payments.

Ratu Timoci said funds from the sales can be used for health care, education and infrastructure needs.

Civil servants who do not own property will have the first chance to buy the land.

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