NATIVE LAND BODY BLOCKS NADI AIRPORT LAND TRANSFER

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 4, 1999 - PACNEWS/INCL)---The Fiji Government has run into more trouble with native landowners in carrying out plans to privatize the country's Civil Aviation Authority.

Fiji's Native Land Trust Board (NLTB) has stopped the Government from transferring Nadi International Airport land to the Civil Aviation Authority's successor company, Airports Fiji, Limited.

The Government had proposed to transfer all the authority's assets, including the land, at Nadi airport to the new company, as part of the authority's restructure. However, the NLTB has stated that Fiji's Crown Lands Act directs the state to return native land held by it to native landowners when the land is no longer required for public use.

The Board, carrying out the action as trustees of native land in Fiji, said the Government's intention to have the land at Nadi Airport transferred implies that the land will be used privately.

The Government already is looking into a similar claim by landowners near the airport who say the land was taken from them for the construction of a military airport during World War II. The claim has not been accepted by the Government.

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