FIJI LANDOWNERS WIN LANDMARK $31 MILLION CLAIM

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 31) – Landowners in Monasavu, Fiji, will receive a total of FJ$52.8 million (US$31 million) in compensation for the use of their land by Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA).

In a landmark judgment, Justice Gerard Winters said FEA would pay the landowners the sum of FJ$5million (US$2.9 million) as a first payment by November 30.

Justice Winters said FEA will also pay outstanding capital and interest due for payments from 2002 to 2005 calculated to a total of FJ$4,404,751 (US$2,593,958).

"This sum is also to be paid in full by November 30 and the FEA can file and serve a memorandum detailing its intentions for the equitable distribution of the fund between the landowners trust," he said while handing down his verdict this afternoon. "This can be filed by November 11 providing a full accounting of fees and disbursement and general trust account reconciliation for the landowners."

The landowners compensation will be determined by the size of the land owned by each person in the mataqali [customary land division].

FEA spokeswoman Karalaini Waqanidrola declined to make a comment saying an official statement would be made later.

The landowners from the 13 mataqali in Monasavu were earlier assured a payment of FJ$10 million, which was later retracted by the Fiji Electricity Authority.

The payment was to be viewed as a goodwill payment for the use of the land.

The dam supplies electricity to Viti Levu, Fiji's main island.

The landowners sought compensation from FEA and the Government.

It’s the biggest compensation claim ever made by landowners in Fiji.

November 1, 2005

Fijilive: www.fijilive.com

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