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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Government Takes Credit For Saving Fiji Mahogany Industry
PM Bainimarama touts decrees to restructure, strengthen trade

By Maika Bolatiki

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Nov. 16, 2012) – Fiji’s Government had to stop the rot in the mahogany industry and turn it around to be profitable, according to Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

"We had to stop the rot. We had to create this industry to realize the true potential of this valuable resource, to get the maximum returns for the Fijian economy and all Fijians including landowners," the Prime Minister said while addressing the inaugural meting of the Mahogany Industry Council at the Great Council of Chiefs complex, at Nasova, Suva, yesterday.

To address the fragmented and cohesion lack in the industry, Government introduced two decrees designed to implement international best practices in the management of our mahogany resources.

The Prime Minister said this was to ensure that landowners and all Fijians received greater benefits from this important Industry.

The first was the Mahogany Industry Development Decree 2010. This decree instilled the transparency and efficiency that was previously absent in the Industry.

It had the best interests of all stakeholders at heart, not just a privileged few, and provided a fairer deal for all.

He said proper implementation of the decree would result in landowners receiving a larger share of the proceeds from mahogany timber sales.

"This is particularly so, as the decree sets the framework for the restructure of the industry including the formation of the Mahogany Industry Council and the redefining the roles of Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited and the Fiji Mahogany Trust."

The second decree was the Mahogany Industry (Licensing and Branding) Decree 2011.

This, he said, established a comprehensive regime for the licensing and branding of Fijian mahogany.

"The decree implements a distinct and exclusive Fiji mahogany brand, which will help us achieve premium pricing for our valuable resource. Branding of Fijian mahogany will also prevent unscrupulous overseas buyers from exploiting our mahogany industry by mixing and selling Fijian mahogany with illegally harvested mahogany."

Namosi’s representative to the council, Naresia Vauvau, said he was happy with the Prime Minister’s address, especially when all the rot in the industry had been cleared.

He said mahogany harvesting had not started in Namosi and they had some concerns to raise during this council meeting, which continues today.

FijiSUN: http://www.fijisun.com.fj/

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