Foreign landowners in Fiji are concerned they will lose their land under a bill which was passed by Parliament in December 2014 and applies retrospectively to all foreign owned land in Fiji..
This bill forces foreign owners of land to build a house on their property before December 2016 with a value of at least 250.000 Fijian dollars.
People who do not get their building approved before December 2016 will be fined 10% of the purchase price of their land every six months in which they fail to complete the building and face up to 2 years in jail.
Landowners, many of them who acquired a small plot to live on in retirement, lack the financial means to build a house of the required value fear what will happen to them in December 2016.
They most likely have their land being confiscated when they refuse to pay the imposed fine and can't travel to Fiji because they will be jailed.
Owners who are be in the position to build are hesitant because of possible future requirements they might be confronted with. The current law creates a precedent for other measures to be taken in the future which results in Fiji being very unsafe to invest any money in.
The bill was, according to the government, introduced as a way to restrict speculation of freehold land..
The retrospective building requirement however, is regarded by many owners as an ordinary revenue measure and land grab by the Fijian government.
It defies practise in any self respecting democracy to be punished for something retrospectively, and
it bears no relation to the speculation the bill is supposedly intended to combat.
Despite numerous requests the Fijian government has not replied to these concerns and has failed to give any reason for this measure.