16 Dec 2005

Call for transparency over Fiji mahogany contracts

1:19 pm on 16 December 2005

A Fiji opposition senator says the state enterprise, the Fiji Hardwood Corporation, has financial problems.

Senator Ponipate Lesavua alleges indigenous Fijians are missing out on the benefits of harvesting multi-million dollar mahogany plantations across the country.

Mr Lesavua claims the secretary of the governing SDL party, Jale Baba, along with the prime minister's son, Laisenia Qarase Junior, are benefiting from contracts with the state enterprise, to harvest mahogany at Sote in Tailevu.

Mr Baba says indigenous landowners pushed him to help them, but Mr Lesavua suggests Mr Baba's company and the Fiji Hardwood Corporation both stand to benefit more than the landowners.

"The mahogany company is going down and there's a financial problem with the situation around this - no transparency, no accountability - it's the indigenous Fijians are crying about this."





The timber businessman George Speight is said to have been in part motivated by mahogany riches, in fronting the last coup.