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SODELPA vows to maximise value of mahogany

Avinesh Gopal
Wednesday, July 09, 2014

A SODELPA candidate claims the country's natural resources such as mahogany are exported as sawn timber.

"This is unacceptable. We will ensure there is downstream processing and value added to our resources so that Fiji can maximise returns," said Nirmal Singh.

He said not a single piece of mahogany should end up as firewood.

"We need to have a research and development unit within the appropriate ministry that will pursue developing small scale rural economy by utilising resources such as using mahogany cut pieces for products like pot plant holders, high quality mahogany floor tiles and handicrafts that can be manufactured using off-cuts.

"The same applies to pine. We are throwing away valuable commodity in the form of pine chips.

"We must also encourage our exporters by supporting them, especially our SMEs that use higher percentage of local content rather than punishing them with export tax and other duties.

"Commercial agriculture will remain a priority and availability of land is a critical factor.

"That is one of the reasons SODELPA will bring back the GCC so that landowners' views and interests are collectively well represented and they have a sense of security for their land.

"Once landowners feel their land is secure and they are getting a fair return they will generously make their land available for economic development."

Mr Singh said it was important that landowners and tenants enjoyed good relations and understood each other.

"We must ensure that landowners are well represented in boards and statutory organisations which deals with land such as TLTB as this will give landowners a sense of ownership on decisions made."

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