FTE owners may owe govt millions

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Commissioner of Lands Alan McNeil
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BY NED GAGAHE

Commissioner of Lands Alan McNeil says the lands office does not know exactly how much is the total outstanding Fixed Term Estate (FTE) holders have owed \the government because there is no database of land titles yet.

He suspects it is now well into millions but how much millions remain unknown.

McNeil said this when he responded to the questions the Island Sun had asked him last week.

McNeil has issued a stern warning calling on FTE owners to pay up annual land rents or risk losing their land to forfeiture.

He also added that he had been actively doing forfeiture on certain FTE land in Honiara and the provinces.

Following the publication, The Island Sun had sent him questions.

McNeil was asked how much FTE holders have owed to the government.

Responding to that, McNeil said:

“We don’t know exactly how much is outstanding because there is no database of land titles yet. I suspect there are millions outstanding but we don’t know how many millions.”

When asked about the perception of the Lands office on people’s responses to the simple thing to turn up and simply pay.

He said many people pay their land rents every year, but many others do not.

“We don’t know the reasons why people have not paid. Maybe some people don’t have the money, or they are prioritising other things instead of land rent payments.

“Maybe people think it’s not important, and only pay when they are forced to because they are selling the land or intend to rent it out.

“Fixed Term Estate owners need to take responsibility and pay their annual land rent every year and realise that it’s basically a long-term lease of the land with obligations to pay for it every year.” McNeil said.

Another question he was asked was whether he had already commenced forfeiture action.

He replied, “Not yet, but we will commence next year.”

When asked if there was a timeframe or grace period given for FTE owners to pay up, he said “the law and the grants of FTE state that annual land rent needs to be paid every year. There is no such thing as a grace period. The deadline is every year.” 

McNeil said that each FTE has a different land rent, based on the land area and when it was granted.


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