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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 25) - The true value of mahogany would be realized as a result of the industry's deregulation, says Fiji Pine Limited's chief executive, George Vuki.

He said deregulation would allow the interim Government to recover the substantial amount of money it invested in mahogany.

Vuki said for the nation to reap significant rewards from the expensive timber, it would have to follow the path of incorporating value adding procedures into operations.

Vuki said instead of just sawing, milling then selling mahogany as timber, proper processing plants should be set up by organizations to manufacture mahogany products.

He said manufacturing mahogany furniture would prove to be a very lucrative business. "Deregulation of the mahogany industry is very good for the country," he said. "It would also mean the real value of mahogany would be realized and I think it is in the best interest of government to have it deregulated. The Government has poured a lot of money into the industry so this would be one way of recovering the investment."

Vuki said all saw mills wanting to enter into milling mahogany had to review their capacities and explore opportunities apart from just selling timber. He said many countries had incorporated mahogany and other forms of timber like pine into single furniture products that fetch decent prices.

He said deregulation would result in more competition leading to improved operations and productivity.

Vuki said while Fiji Pine Limited did not carry out operations with respect to mahogany, the company owned several patches of mahogany that were scattered amongst its plantations.

The Mahogany Trust of Fiji said it had yet to be informed by the interim Government on its plans to deregulate the industry.

"Until we get the official notice from the interim Government, we will not be able to carry out any changes," said Trust manager Aisake Saro.

The trust is tasked with strengthening the industry through the Fiji Hardwood Corporation.

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