Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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TLTB sets record straight on lease renewals

The iTaukei Land Trust Board has set the record straight regarding the renewal of agricultural leases.

The TLTB Executive Board in a statement said the non-renewal of a dairy lease at Sawakasa is due to the fact that land is needed by the iTaukei landowners and has thus been reserved to ensure their support and maintenance.

“This is the only land for this landowning unit and has never used this land for over 100 years. The tenant has been issued a new dairy lease on land that is available with a reduced area.”

The Board said TLTB has a renewal rate of 82%-85% for expired agricultural leases since 1997 and out of a total of 13,125 leases that expired in that period, 10,255 were renewed and 2,566 were not renewed.

“The non-renewals are due to three main reasons: (i) the tenants have not cultivated the land and owed rent arrears; (ii) the land is needed by other economic sectors that attract a much higher rate of return to the landowners in terms of premium and rent; and, (iii) the land is needed for landowners’ support and maintenance.”

“Amongst others, these are issues that are statutory obligations of TLTB to consider in the best interest of the landowners and other economic sectors.”

It further highlighted that some 1777 agriculture leases are expiring between 2023 and 2030 with rental arrears owing in the sum of $1,859,291.31.

“TLTB urges tenants to observe their lease terms and conditions and to clear rent arrears and productively use the land.”

“From 2024 – 2028, 178 out of 843 expiring cane leases have been renewed (25 to new incoming tenants, 16 has been subdivided, 15 reverted to the landowners), and 703 in process.”

“TLTB tries to balance land usage and access with the land needs of other sectors and the landowners. However, it must be understood that the TLTB role and mandate is clearly set out by law as trustees and custodian for the iTaukei landowners.”

TLTB urges tenants to visit TLTB offices to make arrangement for part payments for certain agreed periods if they are finding difficulty in paying rent arrears and new lease consideration for a certain agreed period.

Rent arrears and/or not using the land productively disqualifies tenants from lease renewals.

Moreover, the major challenge for TLTB now is the low productivity per leasehold and yield rate per hectare for cane leases.

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports | news@fijilive.com

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