NEWS

‘We Want Equal Share of Cash’

Mataqali or landowning unit members want equal shares of their pine bonus payout, Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has revealed. He said they wanted the money paid directly
16 May 2018 12:44
‘We Want  Equal  Share  of Cash’
Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum outside Parliament on May 15, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Mataqali or landowning unit members want equal shares of their pine bonus payout, Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has revealed.

He said they wanted the money paid directly to them instead of  the Trust which managed their funds because they had no faith in them.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told Parliament that the landowners had urged Government to follow the equal distribution of lease money policy when distributing the Pine Lease Security Bonus payout.

He said the FijiFirst-Government was working to meet their request.

This means that future Lease  Security Bonus  Payout, similar to the $7million paid to landowning units – at Vesidrua Village in Macuata and to various mataqalis at the Tropik Woods Drasa Complex in Lautoka may be paid equally to all members of the mataqali.

“The massive payout is a culmination of the past five or six years of very solid financial management of Fiji Pine Limited and of course the huge level of input by the Bainimarama-Government and FijiFirst-Government in respect of addressing landowner grievances.

“Madam Speaker, just prior to 2011,  none of the leases that  were expiring were renewed because the landowners were very aggrieved and as a result of consultations that were carried out by the Honourable Prime Minister we came up with  what we call the Lease Security Bonus Payout. The Lease Security Bonus Payout started back in 2013 when a pay-out of $247,000 was made. Recently we saw a payout of $7 million being made, which is 1917.3 per cent increase in the period of five years.

“The bonus payout was made because Fiji Pine Limited was making a lot more money, more leases had been  renewed and because of the profitability and  renewal  of leases we are now paying out a lot more money to  the landowners,” he said.

“Now we have 23,434.12 hectares of expired leases renewed from 2012 to now and Madam Speaker, now the bonus pay-out goes directly to the landowning units themselves. Before it used to go to the Trust. In fact Madam Speaker, a few years ago there was a pay-out made to the Trust and only a partial amount from the money that went to the Trust went to the landowners.

“And, the landowners made representations to the Prime Minister when he went on his consultations in Bua and in the Western Division, they said we need those payments made to us directly.

“This is a massive nod to  the Bainimarama-Government’s decision to put in place equal distribution of  lease money.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum revealed that one landowning unit, which received $340,000, had only eight adults which meant more money went to individuals.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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