Fiji’s Peoples Coalition Cabinet, in its cabinet meeting this week, made a series of decisions aimed at boosting agriculture, the real estate and housing development.
Agriculture Lease Renewal
During their meeting on Tuesday, their first for 2024, cabinet approved $1,220,893.36 to clear outstanding lease payments for 218 farmers, paving the way for the issuance of 50-year term leases to these farmers.
This move aims to encourage continuity in farming, enhancing the viability of both sugar and non-sugar sectors, and curbing rural-to-urban migration.
The decision stems from the Taskforce formed in September 2023, addressing issues related to land leases, renewals, and land premiums for sugar and non-sugar agricultural land. The taskforce identified a total of 2,180 agriculture leases expiring between 2023 and 2030.
Cabinet has directed the Ministry of Finance to assess the renewal of 1,780 TLTB leases expiring from 2023-2030, and propose lease premium initiatives in the 2024-2025 Budget.
Real Estate Regulations Revisited
The cabinet has also approved amendments to the Real Estate Agents (Fees, Forms, and Appeals) Regulations, responding to concerns raised since the imposition of a 2% cap on commission rates for residential properties valued at $500,000 or less.
The removal of this cap aims to reinvigorate healthy competition in the real estate market, allowing market-driven commission rates.
The principal regulations, gazetted on 26 May 2022, set a 2% cap for commission rates on residential properties, considering prevailing market rates and associated costs. However, limitations were identified, including negative impacts on real estate agents’ business operations and reduced sector competitiveness.
Cabinet also approved the establishment of a working group, comprising the Ministry of Trade, REALB, Consumer Council of Fiji, and FCCC to monitor the effectiveness of the regulations, ensuring it aligns with market dynamics and stakeholder needs.
Public Housing Development Project
Fiji’s cabinet also endorsed endorsed that the Public Rental Board (PRB) complete the construction of the remaining 36 housing units, and manage the Lagilagi Housing Estate.
Originally initiated by the People’s Community Network Charitable Trust, this project aims to provide low-cost housing units for settlers in Jittu Estate.
In 2015, 44 units were completed, and the construction of 76 units commenced, with 40 completed in 2017.