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Districts question trust fund

Luke Rawalai
Thursday, April 17, 2014

DISTRICT representatives in Lekutu aired their concerns about the operations of the Bua Forest Trust, saying they're not aware of how the trust is of benefit to them.

Speaking at the district meeting last week, Lekutu district representative Tevita Raiova queried the trust's operations and functions.

Mr Raiova said much of the trust's operations were not clear to the people and they had not experienced any benefit from the trust.

"The trust was put up to look into the welfare and development of the villages within the districts of Bua but so far we have not seen any of this come to fruition," he said.

"I think the Fiji Pine Trust and the Bua Forest Trust owe the people of Lekutu an explanation as to how money derived from their forests is being used."

Responding to the concerns raised at the meeting, Fiji Pine Trust services officer Watekini Taga said the trust had begun development projects for the districts. He added the trust spent $125,000 for development assistance in the districts last year alone.

"This year the trust has already set aside $108,000 for development projects," he said.

"The trust has set aside $48,000 for education assistance, $30,000 for small business assistance, and another $30,000 for community development.

"This does not include the rest of the revenue collected by the trust out of which 3 per cent is diverted to the Bua Forest Development Company Limited and 2.5 per cent to the Bua Forest Trust."

Mr Taga urged district members to visit their office and learn more about their very own trust fund.

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