Vanua o Nacobua, Gone Turaga na Roko Tui Namata;
The Attorney-General and Minister for Economy;
Na Vanua o Namata;
The Owners of Halaiwalu Investments;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
Our 2013 Fijian Constitution introduced the most powerful protection of i-Taukei land in history.
We entrusted every inch of i-Taukei land to our landowning communities for all time; that is why not one inch of i-Taukei land has ever been lost under my Government. That inheritance –– which represents 91% of land in Fiji –– is also the greatest wealth-creating asset in the country.
Having said that, while many of our land-owning units have large amounts of land, they don’t always have the upfront capital for major investments to develop their land so that they can lease it out for a high return. This leaves communities vulnerable to being exploited by outsider-third party developers with deep pockets. These developers come in, develop land, and then lease that land out themselves and make enormous profits. Landowners only ever see a small part of the pie. Alternatively because of politicization of land and land ownership, we have seen many i-Taukei landowners simply hold onto land without productively using it. My Government refused to sit by and watch the i-Taukei people miss out on revenue, on profits that they should accumulate.
This is why the i-Taukei Land Development initiative was started by my Government and how Nasoqeloa Sub-Division has become the reality we see before us today. We ensured budget allocation for i-Taukei landowners – to support them with complete land development packages. This means that Government works on everything from clearing and levelling the ground, to subdividing the land and then ensuring connectivity to all utility services including electricity, water, and brand-new paved roads. At no time in Fijian history have we ever seen an undertaking such as this being made available to our landowners.
We gather here today for the unveiling of this pioneering initiative’s very first, ready to use, modern Fijian Sub-Division; prepped for fifteen (15) residential lots, one (1) commercial lot and an open space. The $2.89 Million-Dollar site has been developed to global climate resilient standards, with underground cabling for EFL and Telecommunications.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this opportunity is something that our foremothers and forefathers could never have been able to imagine. It is virtually unheard of for a Fijian Government to come in, completely develop a piece of land and then hand it back to its landowner free of charge,
as a cash-generating resource.
It is one of my proudest achievements as Prime Minister – to be able to see this final product; a concrete symbol of economic prosperity and aspiration for i-Taukei landowners. As a father and grandfather, to know that this land will now not only support livelihoods today, but for many generations to come, is actually quite emotional.
In 2019 I was with you to break ground on this Sub-Division. Today, this impressive piece of developed land not only benefits Halaiwalu Investments but overall increases land value in the surrounding areas. It will also mean that those who buy the 99-year leased land will build new concrete homes. Banks will lend them money, they will need builders, tilers, plumbers, shops and all the other things that come with putting down roots in a community.
This means a higher return for all landowners. This means a huge rise in economic activity, and economic prosperity not only for the people of Namata and this District but the overall Fijian economy. It will create more prosperity and put more money in the hands of Fijians.
Halaiwalu Investments has made a smart financial move in requesting this support from Government and I hope your example inspires others. I want to explicitly encourage other i-Taukei landowners to come forward and make full use of this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You must consider your future and that of your children.
You should work with my Government to empower yourselves. Take advantage of such initiatives and the many training and up-skilling initiatives for entrepreneurs that we provide.
My Government has always been about empowering all Fijians. My Government has always been about ensuring that the i-Taukei realize that they can become more prosperous if they let go of the prejudices that have existed in the past and which, unfortunately, some seek to bring up again and again. However, I am glad to note that the old politics is very rapidly becoming insignificant.
We as i-Taukei should be aware that the 2013 Constitution guarantees our land-ownership so there is nothing to fear. Accordingly, we must adopt the economic policies that my Government has put in place to empower you – to make you not only asset-rich but cash-rich.
We must understand that the siege mentality does us no good; no favours. We have to modernize – we have to think about the future. We have to understand that our economic prosperity is tied to an integrated and inclusive Fiji, making our land available for development will give us financial and economic prosperity and for our fellow Fijians and our beloved Fiji.
This is what I know you want. This is what I know every Fijian wants. Such initiatives coupled with the huge levels of infrastructure investment by my Government in roads, water, electricity and the protection of the most vulnerable, especially during challenging times together with an inclusive, strong and decisive leadership will not only provide stability and certainty but bring even greater opportunities for all of us – all our men, women, youth, the disabled, the not-so-wealthy and our children.
I wish to thank the Attorney-General, Shah from the Construction and Implementation Unit of the Ministry of Economy, Suliana Taukei from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Sanjesh from Scope Consultants, FRA, EFL, Telecom, Water Authority of Fiji, the construction company and other partners. Thank you to you all for your dedication and expertise in making this development a success.
Once again, congratulations to Halaiwalu developers.
With financial discipline and with insight to break further barriers, we look forward to you carrying out more developments and become an inspiration for many more i-Taukei landowners.
Thank you – Vinaka Vakalevu.