‘Follow proper process’

iTaukei Land Trust Board

The decision to amend the iTaukei Land Trust Act 1940 does not necessarily mean tenants can do anything they want to the land without the consent of landowners.

However, iTaukei Land Trust Board’s former manager legal Alanieta Vakatale (commenting in her personal capacity) claimed what was “worrying for me is that it seems there was no consultation with the TLTB board”.

While delivering the 2021-2022 National Budget last Friday, Attorney-General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Government was amending the Act to ensure that written consent was no longer required for a mortgage, charge, pledge or caveat for any State or iTaukei lease to be dealt with by any court of law or under provisions of any court of law.

“There have been a lot of talks that this would open up for them (lessees/tenants) to do anything they want to the land without the consent of the landowners,” she said.

“I would say not necessarily because your trustee is there, they are there to safeguard your interest and to make sure the tenants comply with lease conditions.

“This Bill has been put in place as part of the budget and you can clearly tell that it is about making it easier for farmers or tenants – to try and get loans from the banks.”

She said as far as loan burdens were concerned, it would always be attached to the tenant and not the land or landowner.

Ms Vakatale said she had been reliably informed that there was no consultation prior to the decision being made.

“What is worrying for me is that there was no consultation with the TLTB board. OK, the changes seem innocent enough but why didn’t you (Government) talk to TLTB first?”

She said representatives of landowners sit on the board and have the responsibility to safeguard the interest of landowners.

“Even if for the best intentions (Government) should still follow the proper process.”

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