Fiji Coup Supplement


17th July 2000



{Presentation to the Great Council of Chiefs by the Interim Prime Minister, Mr Laisenia Qarase, 13 July, 2000}

Introduction The proposals set out below cover issues which have been of great concern to Fijians and Rotumans regarding the security of their rights and interests as the indigenous communities in Fiji, and also the advancement and acceleration of their development, so that they can participate on an equitable basis in the progress of our country.

The purpose of the Blueprint is to bring together all the proposals to address these concerns. It will be noted that follow-up action to be taken comprises the enactment of necessary legislation, the issuance of appropriate Government directives and the provision of budgetary allocations. The Blueprint will, of course, require preparation in detail with full background and supporting information. It will also be necessary for individual Government Ministries to submit papers to Cabinet on specific measures to be taken. Much of the measures proposed in the Blueprint can be implemented in the next two years. However, it is also proposed that a TEN-YEAR plan for Fijian and Rotuman development be prepared.

This will incorporate the measures set out in the attached summary Blueprint together with the development proposals in other areas. Education, for example, is a very important area where we need to pay greater attention in order to improve the performance of Fijian and Rotuman children. A good and successful education is the most effective pathway to a successful future for each individual. The ten-year plan can also set out the broad vision for all indigenous Fijian and Rotuman and for our country as a whole. The plan can thus play an important role in our current endeavour to bring greater unity to Fijians and Rotumans.

For it is in our unity that we can best protect our future. The specific proposals summarised below, together with others, will be part of this ten year plan. It is proposed that a meeting representative of all Fijian and Rotuman interests is to be convened by Government early in the year 2001 to discuss and to map out what should be in this ten year plan. This is to ensure that it is a plan for Fijians by Fijians for their future.


Indigenous Fijians and Rotumans make up more than 51% of the total population of the Fiji Islands, and their numbers, according to the 1996 Census, are continuing to grow at 1.8% per annum compared to the national population growth rate of 0.8%. They also comprise the majority landowning communities in Fiji, with customary proprietary rights to more than 83% of all land in the country, together with associated traditional fishing rights, or qoliqoli. Given the above, anything that affects them must affect the nation. Ensuring the paramountcy of their interests and their equitable participation in all aspects of life in Fiji is thus a pre-condition for the achievement of long term peace, stability and sustainable development in the country. What is needed is an enabling environment to facilitate the achievement of these objectives. This is what this Blueprint seeks to provide. It is to enable indigenous Fijians and Rotumans to fully exercise their rights of self-determination within the unitary State of the Republic of the Fiji Islands. It is to safeguard the paramountcy of their interests in our multi-ethnic and multi- cultural society. And it is to improve and enhance opportunities, amenities and services for Fijians and Rotumans in their development and participation.

1. Legislative Action {by Decree}

{i} New Constitution Preparation of a new Constitution to be promulgated on 24 July, 2001 {Constitution Day} to give effect to the collective desire of Fijians that the national leadership positions of Head of State and Head of Government should always be held by them. The new Constitution is also to address other issues of importance to Fijians and Rotumans in line with the Terms of Reference, as approved by the Great Council of Chiefs. The point is stressed that it will be a new Constitution.

{ii} Schedule A & B Lands The transfer of administration of State Schedule A and B lands by Government to the Native Land Trust Board, as requested by the GCC and the NLTB.

{iii} Agricultural Leases on Native Land Moved to NLTA The removal of native land from the ambit of ALTA and placing it under the NLTA, as requested by the GCC and the NLTB. {Appropriate amendments to be considered for NLTA to protect the interests of tenants. First step is further discussions with NLTB.}

{iv} Ownership Rights to Customary Qoliqoli The conferment of ownership rights, similar to customary ownership of land, on all traditional qoliqoli, as requested by the GCC and the NLTB. {This will take some time as survey and demarcation of boundaries by the Native Lands and Fisheries Commission need to be completed. Appropriate safeguards will be included in the legislation on the right of public access and the protection of the interests of investors.}

{v} Lands Claims Tribunal to Settle Land Claims The establishment of a Land Claims Tribunal to deal with land compensation claims for land acquired for public purposes, e.g. Monasavu, Suva {Domain}, etc. This is the best way to deal with long-standing historical land claims, away from the political arena, and in a tribunal which will comprise eminent people well qualified to consider these claims on their merit. {The legislation is also to establish a special fund to give effect to settlements decided by the Tribunal.}

{vi} Strengthening of the Great Council of Chiefs Review of the Fijian Affairs Act and the Great Council of Chiefs Regulations to determine the need for separate stand-alone Legislation for the GCC, given its enhanced authority under the Constitution.

{vii} Fijian and Rotuman Development Trust Fund The establishment of a Fijian {including Rotumans} Development Trust Fund {similar to the Banaban Trust Fund and the Tuvalu Trust Fund}. This is a capital endowment to be invested to earn interest income to support Fijian {and Rotuman} development. Specifically, it is to be used for the following purposes:

{1} to fund the Fijian Foundation - to undertake and sponsor programmes, including research, etc. on Fijian language, culture, and ethno-geography and ethno-history studies, etc. {this is to accompany the introduction of these as a compulsory subject in all schools};

{2} leadership and other training programmes at Nadave; and

{3} any other purposes approved by the GCC {including the financing of its own operation, so that it is financially independent of the elected political government of the day}.

{viii} Compulsory National Savings Scheme The establishment of a national savings scheme for Fijians and Rotumans. A paper on this is to be presented to the GCC for its approval. The Fund is to finance increased Fijian and Rotuman equity and other forms of participation in business, and also investment in education. The concept has been discussed before and agreed to in principle in both the FAB and GCC.

{ix} Law on Affirmative Action Enabling legislation on affirmative action for Fijians and Rotumans to accompany the relevant provisions of the new Constitution.

{x} Royalty for Underground Water Review the law on mining, so that there is also royalty payment for commercial use of artesian or underground water. This is also to ensure that landowners receive a fair share of the royalties, as in the regime for mining of minerals. Other interests of landowners, i.e. environmental protection, to be also taken into account in the review.

{xi} Tax Exemption for Fijian Companies Enabling legislation, i.e. amendment to the Company Tax Act, for exemption of Fijian-owned companies from company tax for a specified period. This is to assist with cash flow in the formative stage of Fijian company operations. This scheme would be consistent with the grant by Government of tax concessions to companies {e.g. 13 year company tax holiday} in the tourism, mining and garment industry sectors in order to stimulate increased investment and employment creation. Fijian-owned companies or joint venture companies with Fijian controlling interest have not really benefited from the grant of these concessions.

{xii} Review of Legislation to Improve Service A review needs to be undertaken of both the Native Land Trust Act and the Native Lands Act to ensure that their provisions are conducive to the effective delivery of services to Fijians and others by the NLTB and the Native Lands and Fisheries Commission. 2. Policy Direction {by Cabinet together with Budget provision, where needed}

{i} Fijian Administration Revamping the Fijian Administration under the Fijian Affairs Act, so that in its operation, it is fully autonomous of the Central Government. This will include a review of the legislative framework for the Great Council of Chiefs, reflecting its enhanced constitutional and other responsibilities.

{ii} Government to Fund Fijian Administration Government subvention to fund the entire operation of the Fijian Administration {i.e. the GCC, FAB and Provincial Councils}. Meanwhile, there is to be no cuts in Budget allocations to the Ministry of Fijian Affairs in the Mini-Budget from August to December, 2000. It will be up to each Province to decide whether to continue or discontinue the collection of provincial levy or rates. However, since the full running costs of the Fijian Administration are to be covered by the Government grant, fundraising by the Provinces either by way of a provincial levy or by other means is to enable the Provinces to apply more funds to community development projects, the improvement of schools and education, and increased investment in business ventures through their provincial-owned companies.

{iii} Government to Restart Financial Assistance to NLTB Government annual grant support to the NLTB to assist it -

{1} in further reducing its poundage levy on lease rent, thus increasing nett rent income to the landowners;

{2} in its development activities to assist landowners in the commercial development of their land; and

{3} in the restitution of rent income foregone during the grace period {12 months} for expiring ALTA leases.

{iv} Government to Pay Arrears in Rent Budget provision for $1.5 million to cover the payment to the NLTB of arrears in rent for leases on State Schedule A land. These are arrears in rent since 1994 which Government has not paid to the NLTB.

{v} Government to Help Establish the FDTB Government to provide a grant to endow the proposed Fijian Development Trust Fund {FDTB}.

{vi} Fijian Education Fund Government to provide a Fijian Education Fund to cover scholarships {currently $4.7 million}, supplementary assistance {additional to the Ministry of Education's} to Fijian schools, and research into Fijian education issues.

{vii} Government Assistance to FHL Government to convert the $20 million interest-free loans to the Fijians Affairs Board {shares in Fijian Holdings Limited} to a Government grant on the following conditions:

* Transfer $1 million "B" shares held by FAB in Fijian Holdings Limited to each of the 14 Provinces {for their provincial companies}.
* Balance of $6 million to remain with FAB {as equity in FHL}.

{viii} Government Assistance to YHL Government to provide an interest-free loan to FAB for purchase of shares in Yasana Holdings {YHL}. YHL to acquire shares in other companies similar to the operation of FHL.

{ix} Government Shares for Fijians Reserve 50% of Government shares in companies for Fijians as they become available for sale to the public. {This is through competitive bids. Preference is to be given to provincial-owned companies. Joint ventures with majority control by Fijians are also to be allowed as this will have the added benefit of attracting business experience and expertise into the venture, as well as promoting inter-racial and inter-community co-operation.

{x} Licences for Fijians Reserve 50% of major licences for Fijians {e.g. import licences, taxi permits, etc.}.

{xi} Government Contracts for Fijians Reserve 50% of Government contracts for Fijians {as in {ix} above}.

{xii} FDB Loan Scheme Continuation of the FDB Loan Scheme for Fijians and Rotumans but to exclude other communities who are to be covered by a separate scheme at the FDB.

{xiii} Assistance in Purchase of Shares Establish a Small Business Equity Scheme at the FDB with annual allocation of $5 million from Government {for all citizens}.

{xiv} Small Business Agency Establish a National Small Business Agency under the umbrella of the Fiji National Training Council to provide training, advisory services, business information, etc {for all citizens}. This will be the central agency, co-ordinating with other schemes that are providing similar assistance.

{xv} Dealings on Mahogany on Hold Any dealings on "Mahogany" to await the report of GCC Committee on this industry. The report could also have implications on other industries like the pine industry.

{xvi} Discontinue Land Use Commission Discontinue the Land Use Commission as proposed by the last Government. Government is to be involved in land development programmes under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests and the Land Development Authority, as well as land development for the resettlement of evicted tenants, and for low cost housing through the Housing Authority, and the resettlement of squatters. Government is also to assist the commercial development of native land through the NLTB.

{xvii} Assistance with Buy Back of Freehold Land Re-instate Government Budget provision of $500,000 to assist Fijians through interest-free loans in buying back ancestral land alienated as freehold land. These are freehold land available on sale by their owners.

{xviii}Assistance for Provincial Business Participation Government to re-instate the annual allocation of $1.5 million to Provincial Councils, via the FAB, for their participation in business. This allocation will henceforth be a grant and not an interest-free loan.

{xix} Assistance to Landowners Taking Up Cane Farming Establishment assistance to be given {through FDB and FSC} to Fijian landowners, taking up cane farming on their reverted land.

{xx} Mining Royalties Percentage of mining royalties to be paid by Government to landowners to be determined by Cabinet, and not by Parliament as provided in the 1997 Constitution.

{xxi} Royalty for Underground Water The royalty regime for minerals should also apply to artesian or ground water.

{xxii} Renting of Fijian-owned Commercial Office Buildings Government to resume renting, on a need basis, of commercial office buildings owned by Provinces and Tikina companies.

{xxiii} Tax Assistance to Fijian-owned Companies Tax exemption to be granted to Fijian-owned companies for specified periods similar to existing tax concession schemes for particular sectors.

11 July 2000.

13 Blueprint for the Protection and Advancement of Indigenouos Fijians and Rotumans

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