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Naiqamu irons out issues

Luke Rawalai
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

GOVERNMENT is a non-dividend owner within the Fiji Pine Ltd and as such, has not earned revenue from the company.

Ironing out concerns of pine landowners in Bua last week regarding their concerns that the Fiji Pine Trust owned only 0.02 per cent of shares in the company, Forestry Minister Osea Naiqamu said Government was just a shareholder.

Mr Naiqamu said therefore the 99.98 per cent of FPL shares owned by Government was nothing adding that at the end of the day no dividend went to government but only the landowners.

"Come next month there will be a bonus pay in Vanua Levu, and the Prime Minister will be distributing the bonus to pine landowners," he said.

"Although the Fiji Pine Trust owned only 0.02 per cent of shares in Fiji Pine Ltd, it received 50 per cent of dividends and voting rights to decide on board members.

"As major shareholders in Fiji Pine Ltd, Government owned 99.98 per cent of its shares and received the remaining 50 per cent dividend."

Mr Naiqamu reiterated that although Government was a major shareholder, its only role was to facilitate the trust's voting rights.

He explained that the division of dividends and shares was adopted after Government invested $100 million into Fiji Pine Ltd.

"Fiji Pine Ltd is structured in such a way to encourage community participation, especially the people who leased their land to Fiji Pine Ltd," he said.

"In 1976 there was an emerging market through the Japanese Government for pine chips and hence government embarked on land acquisition."

Mr Naqamu said after a sector review of the then Fiji Industry in 1989, Government tried to find how best the ownership could be transferred to the landowners as per the commission Act focusing on how best it would create a viable pine industry.

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