Paradise lost

New land laws drive foreign property owners out of Fiji

“The plan had been for us to retire, live on Koro [Island] for the rest of our lives and research and film the reefs. Simple. Then two things happened. Winston and my husband’s brain cancer.” Actually three things happened for C and her husband R, two of the estimated 5,000 foreigners that own prime land in Fiji.

In December 2014 and again in July 2016, the ruling Fiji First government used its majority in the Fijian Parliament to pass amendments to the Fiji Land Sales Regulations that force land owners like C and R to construct their home on their piece of land within 24 months or face hefty fines or worse, jail time when the construction deadline expires 31 December, 2016.

The house the amended law stipulates should at the minimum costs no less than $FJD250,000. But more repugnantly for these mainly American and Canadian prime estate landowners is the provision that applies these draconian laws retrospectively.

A month away from the deadline has seen prices of these prime land taken a free fall already, with parcels of mainly waterfront or upland lots being put back on the market for as low as $15,000. Others were priced at $20,000 to $25,000, Most of the land wasbought for at least…….

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