Landowners receive bonus payments, $7m

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama presents the cheque to Josaia Driso at Tropik Woods yard in Drasa Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

THE Fiji Pine Group paid out a record $7million in lease security bonus payments to 40 landowning units from across the Western Division. The payout was announced by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the Fiji Pine Group of Companies Drasa mill in Lautoka.

About 2800 people – including landowners, mill workers and industry stakeholders witnessed the historic event.

“Today (yesterday), we are announcing an unprecedented payout to our landowners, this time in the amount of $7 million, quite a long way from that first $350,000 payment made back in 2013,” he said.

Mr Bainimarama said the turnaround of the Fiji Pine Group and the industry was made possible through sound leadership and financial discipline.

“It is the real result of the seven-year turnaround of this industry, and of the real leadership and vision my Government has brought to the Fiji Pine Group.”

The PM said when he met the landowners in 2011, the Fiji Pine  Group and the industry was close to insolvency.

He said it was through the efforts of executive chairman Faiz Khan and his team that the group had managed to turn things around.

Mr Khan said lease security bonus payments (LSBP) had started off at $5 per hectare in 2013 and grew to $21 per ha in the past two years.

“Over the last few years we told you that once our debt is repaid and our factory assets are upgraded LSBP will increase significantly more,” he said.