FIJI GOVERNMENT AGREES TO F$ 52 MILLION PAYOUT TO MONASAVU LANDOWNERS

admin's picture

By Irene Manueli

SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 13, 2001 - Fiji Times)---The government is expected to pay landowners at Monasavu the first installment of a F$ 52.8 million (US$ 23,284,800) payment this month.

The Cabinet agreed last week to allow the Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) to sign a Deed of Settlement agreement. The agreement sets F$ 52.8million (US$ 23,284,800) as the compensation payment to the 14 landowning units: Vatuba, Naviro, Tabariqi, Narokomai, Namuariti, Nabuto, Nadrogo, Ravodrau, Lawaki, Buloutiri, Nasalia, Nakorolo, Nakorolakalaka and Nakoro.

The authority, of which the Government is a major shareholder, has been instructed to "proceed as soon as possible with the payment of monies."

Caretaker Works Minister Joketani Cokanasiga yesterday said the authority would pay the first installment of the funds to the court.

"The disbursement of the money will be left to the court to distribute to the landowners’ lawyer, Sireli Fa, and the Native Land Trust Board," he said.

"Only a few legal issues in regards to the wording of the settlement is being finalized and once that is done it will be signed and the money paid."

The F$ 52.8million (US$ 23,284,800) will be paid out over a 99-year period.

"After the F$ 5million (US$ 2,205,000) payment this year, F$ 1million (US$ 441,000) will be paid every year for the next five years,"' said Mr. Cokanasiga. "Then from 2007 onwards, a payment of F$ 460,000 (US$ 202,860) will be paid out every year for the next 93 years."

A government statement yesterday said under the deed, landowners were required to "discontinue all proceedings against the FEA" and to refrain from disrupting FEA work.

It also covers any royalty payable in relation to timber, and "any goodwill or premium payable in respect of any granting of a lease over the catchment area."

On the review of the lease agreement, Mr. Cokanasiga said negotiations on this aspect would begin after the Deed of Settlement was sealed and the F$ 5 million (US$ 2,205,000) paid out.

The existing lease arrangement requires the FEA to make an annual payment of F$ 250,000 (US$ 110,250) to landowners through NLTB. The Monasavu Dam and catchment area occupies about 25,075 acres that is largely native land.

Meanwhile, the High Court has issued an injunction against Solomoni Naqa and Seremaia Cakau (the respective representatives for Vatuba and Naviro) who had sought the services of another lawyer after citing grievances against Mr. Fa.

Justice John Byrnes issued the injunction, which effectively bars the two from engaging another lawyer to represent them on the Monasavu compensation deal.

Mr. Fa, who had initiated the compensation claim against the government in 1998, had obtained the injunction on the basis that the landowning units had given him "irrevocable authority."

Mr. Fa is to meet representatives of the 14 landowning units today to finalize the Deed of Settlement.

He said Mr. Naqa and Mr. Cakau were no longer the representatives of theirs. "The new representatives are being finalized and we should know at the meeting tomorrow," Mr. Fa said.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment