His Excellency, President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere says the Great Council of Chiefs is expected to meet by the end of May this year.
Ratu Wiliame made this revelation at the opening of the 2023-2024 Session of Parliament and said that the GCC, traditionally the apex of the Vanua, will be re-established.
His Excellency said the Government will undertake consultations and preparatory work before bringing the relevant Bills to Parliament.
The President highlighted the words of the late Justice Jai Ram Reddy, who had addressed the Council of Chiefs in 1997, as the Leader of the Opposition.
“He asked the Chiefs to consider themselves leaders not just of the iTaukei, but of all of Fiji’s people. He reminded them that Indo-Fijians did not wish to separate themselves from their iTaukei brothers and sisters. And, speaking for the Indo-Fijian community, he told the Chiefs, and I quote: Fiji is our home. Fiji is our only home. We have no other. We want no other”. End quote,” he added.
Ratu Wiliame is also calling for the review of the iTaukei Affairs Act, the iTaukei Lands Act, the iTaukei Land Trust Act, the iTaukei Trust Fund Act, and the iTaukei Development Fund Act.
He said that this will position the relevant institutions to deliver their mandates efficiently and effectively.
“The iTaukei institutions will be reviewed. Institutions such as the iTaukei Affairs Board, and Provincial, Tikina and Village Councils will be strengthened. The iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission, the iTaukei Land Trust Board, the iTaukei Trust Fund Board, and the Centre for Appropriate Technology and Development will also be reviewed.”
“Again, the aim is to enable effective service delivery consistent with the Government’s mandate in accordance with the universal standards of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the ILO Convention 169 on the Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples,” the President added.
Ratu Wiliame added that a prime objective also is to improve the economic position of the iTaukei and lift living standards of villages and settlements.
He said the Government recognises that it is in the national interest for the iTaukei to increase their involvement in commerce.
“To help achieve this, an inaugural iTaukei Resource Owners Forum will bring together resource owners and advisors with the necessary expertise to develop a roadmap for moving forward. This is an example of the inclusive approach that Government will continue to embrace,” he added.