Mataqali raises concerns on bonus payments

Bua pine landowners attend the consultations at Bua Lomanikoro Village last week. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

CONCERNS have been raised regarding the inconsistencies of lease security bonuses paid out to pine landowners in Bua last year.

Speaking during a landowners and stakeholders consultation in Bua Lomanikoro yesterday, mataqali Navurevureicake representative Sakiusa Rabakewa revealed they had 77.7 hectares of pine lease and received more than $500.

Considering the total bonus received by other landowners with smaller leases, Mr Rabakewa added the sum they received was unfair.

Mr Rabakewa said he suspected corrupt practice being employed by those distributing the bonuses last year.

He claimed they had queried the difference in bonus sums with the Fiji Pine Ltd (FPL) but they have had no response.

He claimed they were not receiving what the company owed them.

Responding to these concerns, Fiji Pine Ltd manager operations Asesela Cokanacagi said the concept of the lease security bonus began in 2011 after pine landowners on Viti Levu refused to renew their leases.

The idea of the concept, he said, was to attract pine landowners to give up their land for re-leasing by FPL.

Mr Cokanacagi said the idea worked well, adding a lot of the landowners had released their land.

However, Mr Cokanacagi said leases were subject to conditions in order to be given the bonus and this included requirements that the pine lease needed to be more than 15 years or unless landowners agree on renewing their leases and that the land needed to be laden with pine trees.

He told Mr Rabakewa that if they received a smaller sum of bonus, this may mean that trees within their lease were subject to careless burning practices or the lease may have not been renewed.

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