The Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs will be engaging the services of an independent consultant to outline the framework for the re-establishment of the Great Council of Chiefs.
The consultant together with the Ministry will also be conducting nationwide consultations.
Minister for iTaukei Affairs Ifereimi Vasu confirmed to FijiLive today that preliminary works are being carried out by the Ministry regarding the first meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs scheduled for May.
He said the consultant will look at the proposal from the outset.
“We want a GCC that modern, inclusive and that vibrant in nature to look specifically at the issues that concern the indigenous people of this country and that of all Fijians.”
He also highlighted that some prominent chiefly titles remain vacant and the Ministry will look closely at this issue and will make sure that these positions are filled in due course.
Last week at the Opening of the 2023 -2024 Session of Parliament, His Excellency Ratu Wiliame Katonivere outlined Government’s intention to amend certain legislation that look after the welfare and protection of the i-Taukei.
Ratu Wiliame said that the principal iTaukei statutes will be reviewed.
He said these include the iTaukei Affairs Act, the iTaukei Lands Act, the iTaukei Land Trust Act, the iTaukei Trust Fund Act, and the iTaukei Development Fund Act. 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.”
Ratu Wiliame added 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.
“A prime objective is to improve the economic position of the iTaukei and lift living standards of villages and settlements. The Government recognizes 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.”