Several new initiatives are being undertaken by the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, whose allocation in the Fijian Government’s new National Budget (2017-2018) has increased from previous fiscal years.
The State’s latest budget has given the ministry a total of $42.3 million, for which $21.0 million is for operating expenditure, $19.0 million for capital expenditure and $2.8 million for Value Added Tax (VAT).
Its increase of $11.3 million has been attributed to six new capital projects- including the purchase of machinery to support groundwater activities- and an increase in funding towards ongoing projects, namely the development of State land and new land bank investment. The Government said these were part of efforts to avail more land for residential, commercial and industrial development, among others.
The Ministry’s new initiatives include the construction of a core repository warehouse to centralize samples that are currently located at eight core sheds around the country, for the Department of Mineral Resources. The warehouse is expected to improve analysis and assessment of mineral prospects, with the project allocated $260,000.
The purchase of machinery to support groundwater assessment and development for both small and large islands has been granted $4,420,000 while the procurement and upgrade of technical equipment and software at the Tailevu Seismic Station was allotted $180,000.
A sum of $600,000 has been put towards the purchase of satellite images for remote sensing to address the necessity of more updated maps. The Government noted that the use of satellite stereo images by the Department of Lands & Survey would be able to acquire heights and elevation (contours) to better map our land features.
Additionally, $200,000 has been allocated for large format scanners to protect recordings of historical lands information from deteriorating, as some older records include survey plans from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“$340,000 is allocated to purchase survey software (AutoCAD & 12D Model) that will be distributed across all divisions. Staff will be trained to use the software with the intent of reviving the engineering design aspect of surveying which is presently being outsourced to the private sector at high cost,” the Fijian Government noted.
“$240,000 is allocated for the procurement of specialised vehicles to support the monitoring of gravel and sand extraction around the country. Unsustainable extraction is a threat to ecosystem biodiversity, causing disturbance and discharge of contaminants to land, vegetation, river beds and coastal marine areas.”
Ongoing initiatives include an upgrade of the Geodetic Datum for reliable cadastral surveys and upgrades of the local map datum to an international system and standards. This has been allotted a sum of $1,395,540.
A sum of $180,000 has been put towards the purchase of survey equipment to replace gear that is either outdated or beyond repair. This is aimed at ensuring successful survey works, as current survey equipment has a short life span of 3-6 years, according to the Government.
And to facilitate the collation of all data on local land use and land utilization into a data repository that will be entered into a Land Use data base and transformed into map forms, a sum of $240,000 has been allocated.
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