A 73-year-old landowner of Nawailevu Village in Bua says his farming plans will be achieved after he received a Fiji Pine lease security bonus payment yesterday.
Peni Bolatini was among 40 landowners of Vanua Levu who received similar payments from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at Vesidrua Village outside Labasa Town yesterday.
Fiji Pine Group chairman Faiz Khan said $7 million was the total amount paid to landowners in Fiji and out of this total $2.5m was given to Vanua Levu landowners.
Mr Bolatini said he was happy to receive $70,000, which he will distribute among his three brothers.
“I am a livestock farmer and yesterday I did more fencing, so that the money I receive today will be used to buy more livestock so that I can increase the number of my livestock,” he said.
“I did that thinking of my five sons and 23 grandchildren. The rest of the money will be put in the bank.”
Another recipient, Rukalisi Ucewale, 62, was emotional as she thanked the Fiji Pine Industry for not forgetting them.
“From the day we started leasing our land to the Fiji Pine this is the first time we are receiving the biggest amount, which will be put to good use. We received $28,177.10 which will be distributed among six families,” Ms Ucewale said.
“We have leased 252 acres of our land to the Fiji Pine Industry. Today is a day I am really happy because we have received a large amount of money for our land that we have leased.”
Another recipient, Watekini Taga, 59, of Votua Village in Bua said he the lease bonus payment would benefit 400 mataqali members.
“We have received over $100,000 and now mataqali members will sit and discuss what we will do. In the meeting I will come up with an idea and that is for the money to be used to buy a machine to use for logging, but it will depend on mataqali members,” Mr Taga said.
“We started leasing our land to Fiji Pine Industry in 1974 and now know the good thing about it. The lease payment will benefit each and every one of us in the mataqali.”
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said in the past seven years the Fijian economy had soared and so had the Fiji Pine Industry.
“It seems that every year we have something new to celebrate at the Fiji Pine Group, another strong year of financial performance, another ambitious infrastructure expansion and another record payment to our landowners,” Mr Bainimarama said.
“I’m very pleased to know that nearly all the Fiji Pine leases have been renewed, bringing more revenue and putting more money into the pockets of landowners.”