The Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) endorsed a revised version of the lease distribution policy during its meeting on the chiefly island of Bau yesterday.
The new policy departs from the current equal distribution system of lease money and reintroduces a revised allocation method based on the hierarchy structure of iTaukei landowners.
Under the previous policy established in 1984, five per cent was allocated to the Turaga i-Taukei, 10 per cent to the Turaga ni Yavusa, and 15 per cent to the Turaga ni Mataqali after deducting administrative costs known as poundage by the i-Taukei Land Trust Board (TLTB).
In contrast, the current lease distribution policy, implemented by the FijiFirst Government in 2011, evenly distributes lease money among land-owning units after deducting administrative costs.
The proposed payment allotment will still see the Liuliu iTaukei, Liuliu ni Yavusa, and Liuliu ni Mataqali receive a slightly higher payment but at a reduced percentage, yet to be determined, with the remaining amount to be distributed equally among members of the Mataqali.
“The proposed distribution policy will still need to be taken to the appropriate channels for their approval before it can be implemented, Minister for iTaukei Affairs and GCC Chair,” Ifereimi Vasu said.
“This body only endorses, then we will consult the provincial council meetings. Then we’ll take it up to the cabinet for approval.”
“Once the cabinet approves it, then we’ll look at the legislation.”
“It will be amended to reflect that decision,” PS iTaukei Affairs Pita Tagicakirewa added.
The 2023 GCC deliberations, which include representatives from 13 out of the 14 provinces in Fiji, along with Rotuma, began with an update from the GCC Review Committee team led by Dr Jone Baleidrokadroka.
The committee presented a progressive report on outcomes of public consultations held across the country including in nine provinces, addressing common themes such as women and youth participation in the GCC, the council’s composition and role, as well as representation of other races.
The review team will continue its public consultations on the GCC Review until July 31.
Following this, they will present their report during a special GCC meeting, the date of which is yet to be determined.
Furthermore, the GCC discussed the establishment of a special fund for future indigenous Fijian (iTaukei) development on the first day of deliberations. Funding for this initiative will be sourced from a percentage of the TLTB’s poundage and lease money.
The second and final day of the 2023 GCC deliberations today will focus on reviewing principal i-Taukei laws.
This GCC 2023 is the first one held in the country since 2006 and the first to take place on Bau Island in over four decades.
Bau last hosted the GCC in 1982.