The interim government is expected to start consulting with landowners tomorrow (Monday) about maximising land for the sugar industry.
It's believed 87.6 per cent of the land in Fiji is owned by indigenous Fijians, so the bulk of the talks will be with them. Key areas are set to be Sigatoka, Nadi, Rakiraki, Tavua, Ba and Lautoka and a figure of 3000 landowners has been mentioned.
Commissioner Western, Commander Joeli Cawaki, told the Fiji Sun recently that land would remain unchanged but landowners have to give access to the Government and farmers.
“The objective is to see the big picture as through this, the Government wants to increase the economy. If there are no developments taking place on the land, then they have to make arrangements rather than just letting the land sit idle."
The plan has already been criticised with cynics saying the land reforms are consistent with the interim government's intent to dismantle Fiji.
Suliasi Daunitutu, of the Fiji Democracy Movement in Australia, told Coupfourpointfive: "First the The BLV, the Lotu, the SDL government, and now the piece de resistance, the Land. Unfortunately it is being done by a Taukei in the name of racial reform and getting rid of corrupt practises in the government."
Daunitutu maintains Fijian landowners have never been able to show too much power over their land and have been victimised in Frank Bainimarama's plans.
"The gullible landowners can be hit hard by these reforms if they are not careful. The 99 years lease will find a few generations of Fijians not being able to enjoy their land and its security except for the two payments a year they will get. That is not security for the landowner, that is revenue raising for this poor government."
He adds: "Their argument of land lying idle is all a confused explanation of trying to take the land and give to some Chinese people who want to start an ethanol plant, a load of rubbish. The Fijians are well-educated and are already starting their own businesses using their biggest asset, their land. They don't need someone who has no land to tell them how to manage theirs."
Commander Cawaki has said there is a need to change the mentality of landowners and that Bainimarama has said the sugar industry is here to stay.