BIG WIN FOR LANDOWN­ERS

They will, for the first time, get roy­al­ties from min­eral min­ing-80% and Govt re­tains 20%

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - LOSIRENE LACANIVALU

All landown­ers will, for the first time, be able to ac­cess a fair share of roy­al­ties from min­eral min­ing.

This comes after the Fi­jiFirst Gov­ern­ment man­aged to get the Fare Share of Min­eral Roy­al­ties Bill passed and en­acted in Par­lia­ment last night. Act­ing Prime Min­is­ter and At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said un­der the new Act landown­ers would re­ceive 80 per cent of all the roy­al­ties while the State would re­tain only 20 per cent. He said once the Act came into place, the first pay­ment of roy­alty of around $1m would be made from the Trust to the landown­ers.

The landown­ers re­ferred to were own­ers of free­hold land, iTaukei landown­ers, Ro­tu­man and Rabi Is­land landown­ers, he said. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said it had al­ways been known that all min­er­als be­longed

to the State and sur­face land be­longed to the landown­ers. He said through the pro­vi­sion of the 2013 Con­sti­tu­tion there was a re­quire­ment for a fair share of roy­al­ties.

He said a fair share of roy­al­ties would be given to the landown­ers.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum re­vealed that a sim­i­lar pro­vi­sion, not ex­actly the same as this, ex­isted in the 1997 Con­sti­tu­tion (sec­tion 186), stat­ing that Par­lia­ment must make pro­vi­sions grant­ing to the own­ers of land or reg­is­tered cus­tom fish­ing rights an eq­ui­table share of roy­al­ties.

He said the Si­tiveni Rabuka SVT gov­ern­ment and the Laise­nia Qarase SDL Gov­ern­ment failed to bring about any law to give ef­fect to the 1997 pro­vi­sion on sec­tion 186. He said sim­i­larly there was a pro­vi­sion in the 1990 Con­sti­tu­tion put in place by the Rabuka Gov­ern­ment.

He said from 1997 to 2006, the Rabuka and Qarase Gov­ern­ments had the op­por­tu­nity to make the law but they didn’t.

“Nine years and they are com­plain­ing to us about three years, let’s put things into per­spec­tive, ap­pre­ci­ate what the Bill is do­ing and stop play­ing pol­i­tics.”

He said the Fi­jiFirst Gov­ern­ment had now put in place the law for the share of roy­alty. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum fur­ther re­vealed that even though by law the min­er­als be­longed to the state, the landown­ers through this Act would re­ceive 80 per cent of all the roy­al­ties while the state would re­tain only 20 per cent. He said from In­de­pen­dence, from the Ratu Mara Gov­ern­ment, they had the op­por­tu­nity to change the per­cent­age of roy­al­ties but none of them did.

He said SODELPA MP Ratu Naiqama Lal­a­bal­avu was the Min­is­ter for Lands and Min­eral Re­sources in the Qarase Gov­ern­ment and why they did not do it then? Min­is­ter for Pro­duc­tiv­ity, Em­ploy­ment and In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Jone Usa­mate sup­ported the Bill and said this was a his­toric mo­ment.

He said a lot had been said about the shar­ing of roy­al­ties in the past.

He also re­it­er­ated sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments as Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s that the sim­i­lar pro­vi­sions were there in pre­vi­ous con­sti­tu­tions. But noth­ing was done by pre­vi­ous Gov­ern­ment

“So many times there were sen­ti­ments from the other side that the Gov­ern­ment does not seem to care about the landown­ers, but then why was it, that those pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments did not do any­thing about this."

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