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Media Center > Speeches > HON PM BAINIMARAMA AT THE THE DISBURSEMENT OF THE FIJI PINE GROUP CHRISTMAS BONUS PAYMENT

HON PM BAINIMARAMA AT THE THE DISBURSEMENT OF THE FIJI PINE GROUP CHRISTMAS BONUS PAYMENT

12/9/2017
The Executive Chairman of the Fiji Pine Group of Companies;
Board Members,
Staff and Management of the Fiji Pine Group,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

Christmas has certainly come early for the Fiji Pine Group, as we distribute a record-breaking Christmas Bonus Payment of over $650,000 – more than triple what was paid out this time last year.
This success wouldn’t have been possible without the right leadership at the top. The leadership of your Board and management, under Faiz Khan, has brought energy, commitment and dedication to my Government’s vision for the development of Fiji’s forestry industry. And leadership has brought disciplined, prudent financial management and transparency to this organization, and instilled Fiji Pine with a spirit of partnership and collaboration with its management, landowners, and workers.
Today’s payment breaks down into $1,000 Christmas bonuses each for the hard-working staff members at Fiji Pine – and every cent of which is well-deserved.

While I’m sure that’s all exciting to hear, it should also make the men and women in this room feel very proud; for record bonuses only come from record results, and those results would not have been possible without each of you. It is your work, day in and day out, that has made this such a great year for the company. You’ve been on the ground, carrying out the bold vision of reform my Government has set out for Fiji Pine over the last six years. And you’ve helped lead this company through difficult times to reach unprecedented heights.

As I’ve watched that progress unfold, I too have felt great pride. I’ve watched this company rise from the brink of insolvency to the record breaking success we are celebrating today. Not so long ago, in 2010, the Fiji Pine Group was facing catastrophe. There were no payments to shareholders. There were no profits. And there certainly weren’t any bonus payments during the holidays, like the one you are all receiving today.

Back then, few would have thought the success we are celebrating today was even possible. But my Government refused to resign this industry to failure. We were not prepared to sit idly by as Fijians who relied on a robust pine industry suffered. Even at this low point, we could see the industry’s potential not only to be solvent, but as one that was capable of greatness. And with the right vision and the right leadership, we’ve brought Fiji Pine back from the brink, better than before, and with an even brighter future in the years ahead.

Without you to help shape and carry out Government’s vision, none of this would have been possible. You’ve achieved record profits these past six years, and you’ve repaid over 60 million dollars in loans and you’ve built a foundation for sustained growth – investing over 70 million dollars in strategic upgrades. You’ve welcomed a new Drasa Factory – a state-of-the-art timber facility; the Wariki wood chipping facility; and the brand new Vislanda sawmill, which I has honoured to open with you earlier this year.
Back in 2010, our landowners had little faith in this company and in this industry. But that’s changed. I’ve met with our landowners year after year as they’ve welcomed lease bonus payments under your new profit sharing model; and, today, they share our great confidence in this industry.

Working alongside our landowners, you’ve made this industry profitable and, more importantly, you’ve kept sustainability at the core of all of Fiji Pine’s development.

When my Government first began to steer this industry into its current direction, you’ll all likely recall the naysayers with their doom-and-gloom predictions.

As the rest of Fiji has cheered our march forward, as ordinary Fijians welcome the many benefits of our growing economy, our political opponents have found themselves clamouring for relevance. While we put our energy into better outcomes for ordinary Fijians, the Opposition has continued with their insults, the lies and their politics of division – all part of their desperate campaign to push Fiji back into the past. A past of provincialism, a path of ethnic consideration, a past of corruption, a past of petty point scoring, and a past that benefitted only the privileged.

But – I assure you – as we look on, we are undeterred in moving Fiji forward. While they’ve been busy talking, we’ve been busy doing. While they’ve been busy spinning their lies, trying to scare our landowners into inaction, we’ve been making this industry more profitable than ever before.

We will keep up our work to build an even stronger future for Fiji Pine, and for every Fijian who relies on the health of our forestry industry.

Fiji’s larger success – like the success of Fiji Pine – is owed to consistent, unwavering and decisive leadership. That leadership, combined with the sweat and the passion of the Fijian people, has carried our country to greatness.

We enter 2018 on the back on eight straight years of economic growth. We’ve brought our economy back from the devastation of Cyclone Winston. And we’ve assumed leadership on the global stage on some of the great challenges facing our nation, the Pacific and climate-vulnerable people around the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, 2017 has been a truly remarkable year for not just Fiji Pine, but for all of Fiji–– it is one for the history books. With your continued support, your hard work, and your dedication, it’s clearer now than ever before that the best for all of us is yet to come. Our brightest days are still ahead; may 2018 be filled with the same resolution that has led us here today.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from my family to yours.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.
 
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