FIJI REGIME TAKES HOLD OF MAHOGANY INDUSTRY

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Mahogany harvest has been haphazard

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, May 5, 2010) - Although Fiji has one of the world’s largest mahogany plantations, the harvesting of these have until now, been carried out in an unstructured manner.

Minister for Public Enterprises Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said this has resulted in minimal returns given to landowners, Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited (FHCL), government and the Fijian economy.

The government has thus issued an invitation calling for expressions of interest from interested partied for the purchase of mahogany timber from FHCL.

This move is expected to be under the scheme established by the Mahogany Industry Development Decree.

"The decree has been put in place to facilitate a sustainable harvesting and reforestation program with the view to create a liberalized mahogany industry with maximum returns to Fiji and her people," he said.

This decree established the Mahogany Industry Council whose membership comprises of the Prime Minister being the chairperson, the Attorney General, The minister for Forests, and the Chairperson of the Fiji Mahogany Trust as well as one other person appointed by the chairperson.

Sayed-Khaiyum stated that under the decree, the council supervises and directs the maintenance and development of the mahogany industry and also supervises and directs FHCL and the Trust in the performance of their functions.

"Particularly, the council is responsible under the decree to fix the terms of which mahogany timber in any mahogany plantation land may be sold by FHCL and to direct FHCL to enter into agreement with specified persons for the sale of mahogany timber," he added.

The minister said the council would also determine how the proceeds of sale are to be distributed amongst landowners and the State and to determine amounts to be set aside for reforestation or other purposes.

Under the decree, FHCL will act on the direction of the council and is responsible for managing all operations in connection with planting, growing, harvesting and sale of mahogany timber on any mahogany plantation land.

All expressions of interest are expected to be received before June 14 this year.

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