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Forestry Ministry invests in Online innovations for stakeholder convenience

Doing business in the new normal is now easier with the Ministry of Forestry’s export and import online licensing system. Applications can be done conveniently from the office, with licenses being issued within 24 to 48 hours. The licensing system is available at www.forestry.gov.fj

This is part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to improve the ease of doing business. It is also part of the Government’s response to COVID-19 in helping to generate economic activity in the forestry sector.

On Monday 3rd August, Yavutu ni Vanua Investment Pte Limited, a mahogany landowning company in Kasavu were the first landowner company to receive their export license using the final officially approved online system thus allowing them to export 26.0m3 of kiln-dried mahogany products valued at $FJD 37,552 to New Zealand. The Ministry has been testing the system since July last Financial Year and in the process using dummy licenses and few import and export license for test runs.  

Company secretary Mr. Jone Siqila said their core activity is to purchase mahogany logs from the Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited, arrange for their milling to the required specifications and then sell the sawn timber to local and overseas buyers.

“Our earlier experiences trying to secure a Timber Export License to export mahogany decking to New Zealand took a lot of time as we had to lodge our documents manually,” Mr. Siqila said.

“Travelling back and forth from the Timber Utilisation Division in Nasinu to the Ministry’s headquarters in Toorak was also time-consuming.”

Mr. Siqila welcomed the introduction of the online licensing system and thanked the Ministry of Forestry for the initiative as it saved them a lot of effort and money this time around.

The online licensing system is the first of many technological innovations that the Ministry will be launching in the coming months and parallels the Fijian Government’s COVID-19 safe recovery framework which allows economic activity to safely resume without compromise to health and safety.

Minister for Forestry, Honourable Osea Naiqamu said that the ministry’s allocation of $1.7million in the 2020-2021 budget for the Research and Development Division will see additional investments on Forest Resource Assessments, Research as well as the development of a new web link.

The new web link will provide the ministry with key geographic information to assist in planning and decision making. As such, the Ministry’s Forest Resource Assessment and Conservation (FRAC) Division  is currently undertaking a mapping project where 2Dimensional and 3Dimensional ?dynamic web maps ?containing relevant information are created and presented in web applications for easy analysis and understanding.

Essentially, what this means is that the maps are available online and show? real-time information in 2D and 3D views on harvested areas, Forest and Nature Reserves and Planted areas, to name a few. ?The FRAC Division, which is the data hub of the Ministry, updates the web maps daily thus providing almost real-time information to the Ministry’s management and staff for planning and decision-making purposes.

Additionally, the Division has set up an online dashboard which highlights all planted area locations with details such as the number of trees planted, species planted and spacing in between planted trees. The dashboard could be accessed by the public for two specific reasons vis-à-vis to report on the details of trees or mangroves they have planted or to get an update on Fiji’s tree-planting revolution which now has a target of 30 million trees in 15 years.

According to Minister Naiqamu, the Ministry will continue to add to the online licensing system by extending the service to include applications for harvesting, sawmilling and treatment plants.

“The investments in technology will assist the Ministry’s facilitation processes to ensure that the private sector spends more time generating economic growth and creating employment opportunities, these will cushion the impacts of COVID-19 on our people and Nation,” he said.    


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