A TEAM from the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Finance will conduct paperwork and physical inspections of freehold land bought by foreigners to ensure the property owners are adhering to the Land Sales Act of 2014.
Speaking at the recent Budget consultation forum in Lautoka, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the inspections were necessary.
“The law is very clear and has been put in place and we expect people to abide by the law,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“By way of the law, there will be penalties and that needs to be adhered to.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said amendments to the Land Sales Act ensured foreign land owners used the land outside of municipal boundaries within two years and they had to build within that time.
“Countries like Australia, for example, have restrictions on foreigners who own dirt as we say, but in Fiji we found that, of course, the cost of buying an ordinary house by an ordinary Fijian is way out of their range,” he said.
“A lot of this is combined with the fact that we need to ensure people who are going to buy real estate in Fiji need to invest in Fiji.
“They need to build because they cannot be buying land and it remains idle. If every single foreign owner of real estate in Fiji commenced construction worth $250,000 minimum, this would have a positive impact on jobs, growth and the construction industry.”
Naisoso Island managing director Bob Lowres agreed with Government on the use of idle land, but added the timeframe needed to be extended post-Winston.
“We have to build 90 homes and it’s impossible to do that within that timeframe,” the developer said.
This article first appeared in The Fiji Times on June 2, 2016.