Locals don’t meet criteria

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MFMR explains four beche-de-mer exporters

BY JARED KOLI

THE Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) says locals applying for beche-de-mer export licence do not meet criteria ‘one’ and ‘three’ issued by the ministry for this harvest season.

MFMR Permanent Secretary (Acting), Mr Ferral Lasi explained in an interview yesterday that out of the 19 applicants, most of them fall out of these criteria.

Unlike previous years, MFMR has stated that individuals or companies applying to obtain a license must demonstrate to the Ministry that they have met the following requirements:

  • Companies holding valid license or permit to export Marine Product in 2017, and evidence of doing business in the fisheries sector in the last 3 years.
  • Companies with valid Inland Revenue Division TIN
  • Companies with documentary evidence of export returns from Central Bank of Solomon Islands
  • Companies with good standing records of compliance with fisheries regulations in the last 3 years

Responding to public outcry over the matter, Mr Lasi said most of the other 15 applicants have never held valid license or permit to export Marine Product in 2017, and evidence of doing business in the fisheries sector in the last 3 years.

“They have no current valid licence on marine resources trading, this means that these companies do not have current valid licence to export marine products – such as shark fins, trochus, reef fish, coral or other marine products.

“Those that were approved have this licence, they have been exporting marine products for the past three years,” Mr Lasi said while referring to the first criteria.

He said locals have also fallen off the third criteria which states companies must poses documentary evidence of export returns from the Central Bank of Solomon Islands.

“All of the other applicants have eliminated because all of them do not meet this criteria as well.

“This is because most of the locals applying are never in that kind of business, they are opportunist traders,” the Acting PS said.

Mr Lasi said some of the locals are agents or front man of foreign business people.

“This is the main reason we do not approve or consider the others, not only Solomon Islanders but other business people applying for the export licence. They have no track record in the trade of marine products,” he said.

Mr Lasi said MFMR is concerned about the threat of export returns from Central Bank of Solomon Islands.

“We do not want earnings from sea cucumber to make money for outside people, they do not have track record and could use the export permit to make money for that limited period of time.

“If they have track record one can tell that the company will invest back into the country and grow the economy.”

He said the bulk of money earned will be invested back into the country and can contribute in economic growth.

Mr Lasi said the four have been decided by the cabinet.

“The issue is that,” Mr Lasi adds, “there are two part ways, one is through cabinet and one is through the Fisheries Act which can make ultimate decisions on the case.”

He said Cabinet should not make such decisions – leave it to the Fisheries but the constitution gives cabinet the upper hand, which the current harvest period is decided on.

“These key points can be hidden when emotions run high and people can only think of the perception that MFMR only awards Asian exporters, but not only on fisheries do we need that but on all the other local resources,” he said.

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