Former Fiji PM Defends Momi Bay Land Transaction

admin's picture

Qarase says exchange of native with freehold land ‘no loss’

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 9, 2013) – Former Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase says the accusations made by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on the controversial Momi Bay land transaction do not reflect the full facts of the case.

Commodore Bainimarama in a government statement on Sunday accused the Qarase government for permanently alienating iTaukei land despite the so called entrenchment of the (iTaukei) Land Trust Act.

He said his government has now put in place laws that will stop such conversion of iTaukei land to freehold land.

However Qarase in a statement said the land transaction in question involved the swap or exchange of 68.7 hectares of native land owned by Tokatoka Nasau with freehold land of equivalent value owned by Matapo Limited, the developer of Momi Bay Resort Project.

"Upon exchange the native land was to be converted to freehold and the Matapo freehold was to be converted to native land and registered under Tokatoka Nasau. There was no loss of native land in the transaction because of the equivalent freehold land and other benefits in exchange," Qarase said.

He said the conversion of the native land to freehold was completed, but the conversion of freehold to native land had yet to be completed because of the events of December, 2006.

Qarase said the then Native Land Trust Board gave its approval to the deal and his government sanctioned the land swap under the Land Transfer Act.

"Mr. Khaiyum’s reference to the provisions of the law relating to this transaction is also misleading. As Chief Legal Officer of the Government he should at least be completely honest with his explanation. The transaction was completed within the relevant laws with voluntary participation of all parties involved."

"The bottom line is that the landowner, as owners of the land, agreed to exchange their asset with a similar asset of equivalent value. It was a voluntary act on their part, and they were satisfied and happy with what they received," he said.

"The Momi Land transaction was an isolated case which all parties concerned approved and came away satisfied with the outcome.

"There were two precedents for similar land transactions. In the Hyatt Hotel and Denarau development projects there were similar land exchange transactions, both during the SVT government," he added.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment