The Nasomo Community Elders;
The Trustees and members of the Nasomo Landowners Trust;
Government officials;
Members of the media

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
On behalf of the Leader of Government, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, it gives me great pleasure to be here in Nasomo today to officiate in the 7th payout of mineral royalty fair share to the members of the Nasomo Landowners Trust.
At the outset, I wish to convey my sincere gratitude to the vanua for the traditional welcome ceremony accorded to me and the Government officials that are present here this morning.
I wish to thank all of you who have worked together in devising a plan that ensures today’s event adheres to the COVID-19 restrictions currently in place.
For such reason, today’s payout is held in 2 different venues; the first being here at the Nasomo Community Hall for Nasomo Landowners Trust members residing in Vatukoula; and the second venue is at the DO Tavua office where payout will be undertaken later today for recipients residing outside Vatukoula.
COVID-19 and TC Harold
Ladies  & Gentlemen, we are living in unprecedented times as the impact of COVID-19 continues to decimate the global economy. In Fiji, such impacts have been further exacerbated by TC Harold, which wreaked havoc across the country coupled with the prolonged wet spell that has severely affected our economy.
We must all unite in this fight against COVID and play our part in helping with the government’s efforts to rehabilitate and rebuild our economy. The path to recovery will be not easy but I am confident that with our resilience and perseverance which Fijians are known for, we will get there together.
In the last two (2) weeks, I was in the Lau Group and Kadavu with the Prime Minister visiting places affected by TC Harold and distributing much needed relief supplies to victims. On Wednesday this week, I again joined the Prime Minister in a similar trip to the island of Vatulele.
These rehabilitation measures by Government together with the event today are a testament of your Government’s commitment to improving the lives of ordinary Fijians despite the challenges before us.
Today’s event is also a reflection of your Government’s foresight in ensuring continuous socio-economic empowerment of landowners and landowning units who contribute to national economic development by supporting mineral development projects undertaken on their land.
Nasomo Landowners Trust Mineral Fair Share Payout
This payout is the result of the gold and silver mined from beneath Nasomo land for the period December 2019 to February 2020 with a total of approximately $66,665 to be equitably distributed or shared amongst 123 Nasomo Landowners Trust members. This payout is in accordance to Section 5 of the Fair Share of Mineral Royalties Act 2018 which states that 80% of mineral royalties be given to landowning units or customary fishing rights holders and 20% retained by the State.
From 2018 to date, a total mineral royalty fair share of $5.7M has been distributed to landowners and landowning units of which $460,000 were paid to the Nasomo Landowners Trust. These royalties are earned predominantly from bauxite, gold and silver whereby approximately $1.4M retained by the State.
Having said that, I wish to thank the Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited for its commitment to the future of the Vatukoula mine. During my visit to the mine last month, I was briefed that the mine have undertaken significant capital investments to modernize the mine infrastructure, improve underground working conditions, ensure cost-effective power generation and improve its gold recovery or milling process.
Given the capital-intensive and volatile nature of mining, the support of relevant stakeholders including landowners is integral in the success of such projects. As such, I encourage you all as members of the Nasomo Landowners Trust and the wider Vatukoula and Tavua mining community to continue to support Vatukoula Gold Mines in its efforts to secure the future of mining in Vatukoula.
To conclude, it is imperative that all recipients sustainably manage these funds and utilize it wisely. I am greatly encouraged by the decision made by Trust members to contribute a portion of their funds to the Nasomo Community Development Fund. I urge the Trust to utilize this fund transparently for community development that will bring in tangible benefits for the current and future generation of Nasomo.
I take this time to thank you all and wish you the best for the rest of the year.
Thank you and Vinaka vakalevu.