Landowners share $2.1m in bonus payment

Raijieli Comosi smiles away after receiving the Lease Security Bonus Payment from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at Fiji Pine Ltd Drasa, Lautoka. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

FIJI pine landowners in the Western Division received $7 million in lease security bonus payment from profits earned last year.

However, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the landowners would receive $2.1m or 30 per cent of the $7m through the iTaukei Land Trust Board.

He said 70 per cent would be allocated into community-based projects.

The PM said 2018 was the best year in the history of the pine industry and that was because of the strategic decisions made in 2011 and the reforms carried out since then.

“This year, record profits have produced record bonus payments, and Fiji Pine will pay landowners $7 million,” said Mr Bainimarama.

“This is not a stand-alone victory. Fiji Pine is in a position that will sustain its financial security over the long-term.

“The company is debt-free and infrastructure has been upgraded to a state-of-the-art level and this has been done with no importation of raw materials.

“All the money generated by Fiji Pine stays in Fiji, benefiting Fijian families and adding fire to the Fijian economy.”

Fiji Pine Trust chairman Ratu Semesa Pio Balabala said the payment was a reward for the hard work and commitment of landowners.

“On behalf of the mataqali of Ketenaratu, we want to thank Government and their vision and commitment to setting up a new board that was willing to work with us,” he said.

“It was only through their intervention and their willingness to help the landowners that we were able to set up our own trust and small businesses that contributed to the growth of Fiji Pine.”

Mr Balabala received a cheque for more than $250,000.

He was among 20 of the top landowning units that received pay cheques from the Prime Minister yesterday.

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