FIJI LANDOWNERS TO GET FIRST PAYMENT IN SETTLEMENT

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 25) – Members of 14 clans in the Monasavu district of Fiji will receive nearly FJ$9.4 million(US$5.4 million) next week in the first of what is believed to be the largest compensation payment in Fiji's history.

Most of the recipients are villagers with up to 100 members in some clans.

The Monasavu landowners have set up trusts for each of the 14 clans that will receive a FJ$52.8 million (US$30.5 million) payout from the Fiji Electricity Authority over the next 93 years.

"We are happy because the payments will span beyond our generation and benefit our grandchildren too," said Semi Nakau, a spokesman for the landowners.

The landowners have been given a "60/40 option" on the use of their money, said Nakau. Each trust will decide whether to invest 60 percent of their funds and share the remainder amongst the members of the clan or vice versa.

"The primary investment for us will be in the education of our children with the rest in capital markets," said Nakau.

The landowners expect to receive the next payment of FJ$1 million early next year and lesser amounts annually thereafter.

In a landmark judgment on October 31, Justice Gerard Winters agreed the 14 land owning units were owed $52.8m by the FEA for the construction of the Monasavu hydro-dam in 1985.

The FEA and the landowners had agreed to an out of court goodwill payment of $52.8m in 2000, but the matter could not be resolved then.

November 25, 2005

Fijilive: www.fijilive.com

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