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Board runs forest query

Luke Rawalai
Monday, July 17, 2017

THE iTaukei Land Trust Board is running a query on the 60-year-old forest reserve on Nakoromakawa in Cakaudrove after landowners questioned about its royalties to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Responding to questions from this newspaper, a statement from the Forestry Department confirmed this, saying they would not comment on the issue until the survey was over.

The statement said that the department had been advised by the Forest Conservator, Eliki Senivasa, to refrain from commenting on the issue.

Earlier questions sent to deputy general manager Operation, Research and Development iTLTB, Solomoni Nata on Friday last week remained unanswered even though he confirmed to this newspaper that iTLTB northern manager North, Jope Volai would respond on the issue. During his earlier tour to the North, Mr Bainimarama was informed by landowners that they did not receive a single cent from the lease of the forest reserve.

Village headman Paterisio Natui told the Prime Minister that they did not know what had happened to royalties they were promised.

Mr Natui said there were native tree species within the reserve land that had wilted and died over the years and others ready for harvest.

He asked Mr Bainimarama if villagers could use the timber to get money.

Earlier this month, Minister for Forests Osea Naiqamu clarified to this newspaper that the reserved land was on a native lease after Government handed over the leases to landowners in 2003.

Mr Naiqamu said before 2003, the land was a crown land under Government unclaimed leases of Schedule A and B lands. He said iTLTB needed to answer to the queries raised by landowners.

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