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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 4) - Income from F$30 million (US$18 million) in State grants given to the Fijian Development Trust Fund is being used to finance the new Great Council of Chiefs complex in Draiba, Suva.

The Trust earns F$1.96 million (US$1.18 million) in dividends each year from F$20 million (US$12 million) it has invested in Fijian Holdings, Amalgamated Telecom Holdings and R B Patel Group since 2002.

Prime Minister's Office special projects deputy secretary Jone Navakamocea made the comment during a Rewa Provincial Council workshop yesterday.

He said the Government had given the Trust - which comes under the Fijian Affairs Ministry - F$10 million (US$6 million) a year since 2002 to invest for the benefit of provinces.

"The Government has been providing F$10 million a year apart from the F$100,000 (US$60,000) that is given to the provincial councils every year to help with their own provinces," he said.

Navakamocea said the first dividends that the trust received in 2002 valued at F$1.96 million were used to start the new $20 million GCC complex. He said other dividends earned from the investment in shares over the next few years would also be used to pay off the GCC complex.

Construction is expected to be finished by mid-next year.

Roko Tui Dreketi and Education Minister Ro Teimumu Kepa launched construction of the complex last month.

Navakamocea told delegates that the other $10 million given to the trust fund was put on the securities market.

"There is also F$11.8million on the securities market and this is something that would be good for the trust," he said.

The comments come as Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase called for Fijians to support an Act to grant GCC more power.

Opening the Rewa Provincial Council workshop, Qarase said the Government wanted the GCC Act in place before next year's elections because chiefs needed more power to look after the welfare of their people.

Qarase said the Act would look after the GCC's affairs, which falls under the Ministry of Fijian Affairs.

May 5, 2005

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