CHAUDHRY LAND USE PROPOSAL BACKED BY MINISTRY

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb 4) – Mahendra Chaudhry's Land Use Commission, which had aroused fears amongst indigenous Fijians ahead of the 2000 coup, has the backing of the interim Fijian Affairs Ministry.

Interim Fijian Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau says his ministry will look into the land use concept proposed by Chaudhry's People's Coalition Government in 2000.

Ratu Epeli said that it's a good concept for the Fijians because they own most of the lands in the country.

The Commission was met with criticism before the May 2000 coup from some provinces in Fiji out of suspicion that Government would take away the right of indigenous Fijians to their land.

However, Ratu Epeli said indigenous Fijians will benefit a lot from it.

"Most of the politicians have tried to use that concept as a tool of fear that they will be dispossessed of their land. It's all rubbish.

"It's really to help the Fijians," he said.

Chaudhry after the 2000 coup said that the Commission would have boosted development and enhanced income levels for the owners of the land.

"But, unfortunately, the proposal was hijacked by detractors of the Government to arouse emotional fears through disinformation and misrepresentation, and then, of course, buried by the coup," he said.

Chaudhry said the economy had never recovered since and although there had been some improvement, this was not based on strong production factors, but on high consumer spending.

With Chaudhry back in the driving seat as interim Finance Minister, the interim Government is looking to reintroduce the Land Use Commission.

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