The Ministry of Forestry and Research (MoFR) has clarified, actions recently taken by its Minister Honourable Samuel Manetoali was legitimate and legal.
Honourable Manetoali had been accused of exempting a logging operation in his constituency, which he was alleged to be a party to, from going through the process of Timber Rights Hearing.
Today, the Ministry said, the Minister had followed thoroughly and provided the relevant documents as requirements in the process to the rightful authorities including the forestry office.
It explains, that includes requirements such as the Environment Impact Assessment and the Development Consent from the Environment Division of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology.
This was also done according to the interests of the landowners, who have applied and have given consent for the purpose of development which the forestry office had received.
It added, decisions from the High Court and Customary Land Appeal Court with one decision from the local court also ruled in favour of this development purpose.
The signed and gazette exemption notice done by the current Minister in exercising his powers were on specific grounds. It was particularly for the purpose of clearing land, road work, housing project, business centre, tourism development and industrial site.
The Forestry Office said all these were being done and received during the tenure of Honourable Chris Laore who was then the Minister for Forestry and Research.