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Fijian Parliament has passed the 2017-2018 National Budget Thursday.
32 parliamentarians voted for the national budget, 14 voted against it while four did not vote.
The 2017-2018 National Budget will come into effect from 01 August.
Meanwhile, a motion to increase the allocation for reforestation of degraded forests was defeated in parliament.
Opposition MP, Mosese Bulitavu tabled the motion saying more funds should be directed towards reforestation so that more awareness is raised among the resource owners.
Agriculture Minister, Inia Seruiratu replied that the government is doing enough in protecting forests however the responsibility lays on the resource owners.
Seruiratu said the government has provided seedlings and resource owners have planted a lot of indigenous species in Korotari Labasa and most of it is overgrown which no one cares for.
“We have the money, the economic benefits from logging but we are hardly re-investing, that’s our future, not only in terms of economic benefits that will come after us but it is also about social benefits because water sources, biodiversity and the forests and most importantly the environmental benefits as well. There’s an initiative by government to revisit these areas that has been logged.”
Opposition Member Prem Singh said providing seedling is not the only solution.
He pointed out that deforestation is the direct result of logging and logging companies are not fulfilling the obligation of being involved in reforestation programmes.
Singh said there should be a mutual understanding with the landowners, government and resource owners.
Opposition MP Viliame Gavoka also said that more input into reforestation is needed. He said blaming the resource owners was unfair.
“We went to Naboutini and resource owners there said that there’s no increase to the rates on which their products are required, but they see ten to twelve trucks coming each day to harvest their trees. When you do that, you are impacting on their lives economically. When they see that nothing is increasing in terms of rates and you expect them to be environmentally friendly? You are asking for the impossible.”
Economy Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum reminded the opposition members that according to the Mahogany Act, companies have to pay a reforestation fee which is used by Fiji Hardword Corporation for reforestation purposes.
The motion was defeated with 32 against and 13 support while five MP’s did not vote.
SOURCE: FIJI VILLAGE/FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
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