Tuesday, April 07, 2009

No $6m rehab fund for miners

No $6m rehab fund for miners
www.fijisun.com.fj - 4/7/2009
Sai Comment:
- Are we ever surprised at this? Of course not. A regime that is only there to fill its pockets and deprive the innocent of their rights will never be expected to be frank and open with its citizens. They usurped power at the point of the gun and they will hang on for near life to enrich themselves from the coffers of the State. So we should not ever be surprised!

The mining community in Vatukoula has been told to forget the $6 million rehabilitation trust fund promised to them three years ago as the pact was not gazetted by the government.
And the community was calling for the interim Government ministers and senior civil servants to be frank with the people.
Vatukoula Community representative Salote Marama said the information was conveyed to them in a meeting called by River Diamond General Manager at the community hall last Friday.
“We were told not to wait for the rehabilitation fund and we should look for an alternative source of income since we would pay for our electricity and repair our quarters under our own expenses soon,” said Ms Marama.
“We were also tagged stupid and lazy for clinging to the promise since there is no such $6m,” said Ms Marama.
She said she had all the documents requiring the new owners of the Vatukoula gold mines to pay all outstanding Emperor obligations to workers, landowners, environment and the mining community.
She said the documents, according to her knowledge, were officially permitted but the information relayed to them by River Diamond general manager raised a lot of suspicions on the promised royalty.
“The general manager just said for us not to rely on the fund because it was not gazetted and it would take time to finalise its legal documentation,” said Ms Marama.
She said they were told to ask government the truth behind the rehabilitation fund since the company from the way it looks, didn’t have any knowledge of the money.
Ms Marama demanded an explanation of the legitimacy of the fund which was promised three years ago by the former Minister of Lands and Mineral Resources Tevita Vuibau. A pact was signed by Mr Vuibau and the former owners of the mine Westech.
She said there had been a lot of lies about the Vuibau-Westech deal over the last three years.
“The people of Vatukoula believe the Government has both a moral and legal obligation to correct all the information regarding the money.
This is important so the people can finally get freedom and move on with their lives,” said Ms Marama.
She said this process was essential in building better communities, which are fundamental in building a better Fiji.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, Maria Matavewa said last month the Government was still committed to the principles of the Rehabilitation Trust Fund and the Deed signed on August 10, 2007.
“Both, (the company and the government) have been working tirelessly to resolve issues relating to taxation and concessions sought by the company,” Mrs Matavewa said.
“I wish to confirm these have been resolved and the “Deed” is being amended with a view of concluding an agreement between the two parties in the immediate future.
“Government is committed to executing the “Deed” in particular the provisions relating to the processes involved for the Rehabilitation Trust Fund. We do share the concerns and hardships of the Vatukoula Community and are working towards a speedy resolution,” she said.
When contacted yesterday on the issue, River Diamond general manager Bert Leathley said he was in a meeting and would comment on the matter today.
Several attempts to get a comment from Interim Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Netani Sukanaivalu on the issue were unsuccessful.

No comments: