The Fiji Labour Party will not accept any resolution to the land issue that does not guarantee long term security for farmers or denies their basic human rights, Labour Parliamentary Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said.
He was responding to claims by NLTB General Manager Kalivati Bakani that NLTB was prepared to offer 50-year leases under NLTA but was not getting any positive responses from farmer’s representatives.
Mr. Chaudhry said the NLTB had not released and details of the proposal.
“If Mr. Bakani wants to talk on the land issue our doors are always open, but we will not accept any proposal that compromises the rights of the tenant community,” he said.
Mr. Chaudhry said the Talanoa sub-committee had already made recommendations to resolve the current land crisis which had been accepted by him but was awaiting a response from Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.
“The Prime Minister is responsible for dragging the issue. He should now table the recommendations in Parliament and move ahead with the appointment of a Joint Parliament Select Committee to deal with the recommendations.
“The land issue will be resolved at the political level,” he said.
Mr. Chaudhry said Sugar Growers Council Chief Executive Jaganath Sami must come out clean and tell the farmers whether he is happy to accept rolling leases under NLTA?
Referring to submissions made to the GCC by Jaganath Sami and members of the Girmit Council on Friday, Mr Chaudhry questioned their mandate to make submissions on behalf of the Indian community.
“They are playing cheap politics. The Girmit Council is a defunct body made up of self-serving members of the business community and has no credibility with the Indian people.
Mr. Chaudhry said the FLP wanted to secure the long term future of Indians in Fiji and not seek solutions that just buy a generation to time as had been done in the past.
“We will not be rushed into any settlement on land that does not ensure the long term interests and rights of the tenant community. We have made it clear that the sugar industry will no longer ride on the backs of cane farmers.
“The final solution on land must be equitable and fair to both stakeholders, landowners as well as tenant farmers,” Mr. Chaudhry said.