With the allocated budget of $30.1 million, the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources will continue to ensure that we strike the right balance between the fulfillment of our role and function, support and encourage economic activities while ensuring that our environment and resources is sustainably protected and managed.
Those are the words of Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Filimoni Vosarogo.
Vosarogo says the Ministry will continue its work in monitoring the sustainable use of our natural resources through foreshore development activities and sustainable mangrove management; tracking down of illegal land subdivisions; monitoring sand and gravel extraction using natural resources officers; groundwater extraction rates and use; illegal land dealings and form of land use; and exploration, quarrying and mining operations.
He says to sustainably support the development and growth of the agricultural sector and agro-processing, the Ministry will continue to speed up the process of land accessibility.
Vosarogo says they have reviewed their processes with much focus on land accessibility.
He says this is evident in the launch of the State Land Online Application portal, which is transparent, efficient and accessible to all.
The Minister says lessees can apply for State land leases without leaving the comfort of their home, business or farm and is readily available through the Ministry’s website.
The Ministry will also revamp another online portal in the coming months which is the online Consent application.
State lessees will be able to apply for consents through the MyLeaseInfo portal.
This will enable lessees to the track status of their applications online at the same time reduce turnaround time in processing applications for consent on all land dealings.
These new Ministry online systems are not outsourced, which would be a costly exercise.
Vosarogo highlights that these Ministry online portals/systems are developed by their very own innovative in-house developers.
In order to sustainably develop Fiji’s mineral potential, a provision of $1.02 million has been allocated which is an increase of $128,300 to ensure sustainable mining activities in Fiji.
Vosarogo says this provision is to fund mining related policies, provide validated information for our mining investors, monitoring of mining activities and sustainably facilitating the exploration and development of the mineral and petroleum resources of the country.
The Mining Division currently monitors 7 Mining Leases, 35 Exploration Licenses and 38 Quarries.
To ensure sustainable extraction of sand and gravel and other stones from rivers an allocation of $62,000 has been allocated for the ‘Baseline survey of Potential River Aggregate Sites” to identify potential river and sand extraction sites along major river systems and conduct volumetric assessment to identify the amount of resources available in Fiji after continuous extraction from our rivers.
With Government’s commitment in providing access to clean water as a fundamental right of every Fijian, a total provision of $3.5 million has been allocated for Groundwater Assessment and Development for Large and Smaller Islands.
This provision allows the Ministry to continue to contribute to Fiji’s water services and to provide Fijians in the maritime islands and the remote drought stricken rural communities in the larger islands access to clean drinking water.
So far Government has been able to analyse, drill and reticulate groundwater sources benefitting Fijians (including hurricane rehabilitation and drought season) through this initiative.
The overall successful drilled groundwater boreholes have benefitted a total population of 20,037 people in 2,635 households.
The Minister says they are also going to purchase a $560,000 vessel for mineral exploration and geological mapping within Fiji waters including coastal assessment and surveys for vulnerable communities.
As of this month, the Ministry has collected a total consolidated revenue of $21.2 million (which is an increase of $2.3 million for same period last year) with the provision of all services provided by the Ministry and will continue its efforts in the collection of revenue and arrears through mandated processes.
Vosarogo also says they will continue the speedy processing of expired leases to ensure security of tenureship is prioritised.
However, they will also ensure that all State agricultural lands are provided to those who are able to cultivate and maximise returns to benefit not only individual households but the nation as a whole.
However, specific importance will always be given to the allocation and identification of State Land for high return investments. This will continue to attract investments and create new job opportunities for more Fijians.
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