NATION

Opposition Accused of Politicising Mahogany

The Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has accused the Opposition of politicising the mahogany industry. The Opposition asked questions in Parliament yesterday about whether the Sustainable Mahogany Industry (SMI) still had a
11 Feb 2017 13:23
Opposition Accused of Politicising Mahogany
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (left), outside Parliament yesterday. Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau

The Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has accused the Opposition of politicising the mahogany industry.

The Opposition asked questions in Parliament yesterday about whether the Sustainable Mahogany Industry (SMI) still had a mahogany licence.

The issue was brought to the House by SODELPA MP, Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum replied: “Thank you Madam Speaker for the question, the answer is no.”

Opposition MP, Jiosefa Dulakiverata claimed the licence was held by Fiji Hardwood before it was given to SMI.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “The problem with them, when they talk about mahogany, they heat up and cause them to cast away facts, so it gets highly politicised.”

The A-G said that the blades at Fiji Hardwood were crooked.

“The fact of the matter is Madam Speaker that the grades 1 and 2 licences weren’t taken off them. They didn’t want it renewed,” he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the way forward for all the current licence holders was to be able to put in their bid and also agree on starting dates for licences.

He said we had the largest planted mahogany forest in the world.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said planted forests attracted more revenue and value for businesses from international markets.

He said there had been a large stock of mahogany and there had been a debt stock of $19 million from the mahogany industry.

However, he said initially there were about $23 million.

The debt stock of Fiji Hardwood Corporation has come down to about $5 million. This has been paid off.

The debts had been in existence since after George Speight’s coup in 2000.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback:  arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj

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