The Minister for Forestry, Hon Osea Naiqamu,
Turaga Na Talatala,
Turaga Na Tui Vitogo,
Turaga Na Tui Yakete,
Turaga Na Tui Nalolo,
Turaga Na Tui Vatu,
Turaga Na Tui Sesevia,
The Executive Chairman of the Fiji Pine Group of Companies
Staff and Management of the Fiji Pine Group,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and a good day to you all.
There isn’t a leader out there who doesn’t like to deliver good news, and I am no exception. And for the last several years, I’ve always looked forward to presenting you – our landowners in the pine sector – with bonus payments that reflect the incredible success of this company.
2018 was the best year in the history of Pine Industry, and that is precisely because of the strategic decisions we made in 2011 and the reforms and procedures we have been carrying out since that time. This year, record profits have produced record bonus payments, and Fiji Pine will pay landowners $7 Million Dollars for 2018.
This is not a stand-alone victory. Fiji Pine is in a position that will sustain its financial security over the long-term. The company is debt-free and infrastructure has been upgraded to a state-of-the-art level. And this has been done with no importation of raw materials. All the money generated by Fiji Pine stays in Fiji, benefitting Fijian families and adding fire to the Fijian economy.
Every year it seems we’ve had more to celebrate. That is testament to what good management gets you. If you have the right people, making the right moves and the right investments, you’ll consistently see great returns. And Fiji Pine’s success has proved: when it comes to doing a job well, it’s not about what Province you’re from, your ethnicity, or your religion – it’s about your qualifications and ability to perform in your role. And when our people come together, and unite in the pursuit of a single goal, we can achieve great things.
My advice to you is this: now that you have your payments, keep putting this money to work. Make investments of your own; buy stocks in companies on the South Pacific Stock Exchange, turn a business idea you’ve shared around the grog bowl into a reality, or invest in the development of your land, which you can then lease for a healthy return.
Friends, you may know the world economy is facing slower growth in the years ahead.
There are doubters out there trying to throw salt on Fiji’s own economic prospects – don’t listen to them. These are the same people who criticized my Government eight years ago, when we first took on the mammoth task of reforming this company to save it from bankruptcy. We’ve never let opposition politicians stop us from doing what’s right: Not now and not ever. We’ve always been open to wisdom and constructive comments – but we’ll never treat attempts at cheap political point scoring as serious suggestions.
Just like with Fiji Pine – our nation has the right management team in place to see us through to continuing – and even greater – prosperity. It took more than courage and smarts to turn this company into what it is today, it took patriotic commitment. When it comes to keeping our economy growing; our level of patriotism will once again be the defining quality of our success.
We’ve already grown our economy for ten straight years. That’s never happened before in our history. So, we know our economy is in good hands.
It is because of that achievement that we’ve been able to fund free education, better infrastructure, new services and all of the support my Government has introduced to support you, your families and our nation as a whole. All of that assistance will continue. As landowners in our pine sector, the only concern you should have is on what you can do to keep this Industry on its own record-breaking streak of success.
In short, this is a celebration of a healthy Industry in a resilient economy, and I want to thank the Board, the Management and the staff –– whose visionary leadership has led us to where we are today –– and all the employees of Fiji Pine for the marvelous business results they have produced. But I also want to thank them for the service they are giving to Fiji and for the role they play in improving the lives of Fijians.
Fiji Pine is achieving good for your communities and good for our country, and we have all shown together that when we invest properly, operate with transparency and honour, and remember to share the benefits of good management with all our stakeholders, we can make a difference in Fiji, and in the lives of the Fijian people.
Vinaka vakalevu – Thank you.