OPPOSITION Leader Manasseh Maelanga has called for the immediate sacking of the Minister for Forest and Research, Samuel Manetoali, while investigations are being carried out into his conduct.
The call was made in response to media reports that in March 2018, the Minister granted special exemption to a logging operation in his own Gao-Bugotu constituency in which he is a party to.
The Opposition understands that the exemption was granted on the basis of Manetoali’s own application to the previous Minister in October 2017, prior to his appointment as Minister for Forests in November 2017.
Mr Maelanga said that while the Act confers discretionary powers to the Minister to grant such an exemption, the exercise of that authority must be carried out with utmost diligence to avoid any instance that may constitute abuse of discretionary powers, conflict of interest, bias, improper motives, or undue influence.
The Opposition Leader added that ‘discretionary powers’ is not a ‘licence’ for the Minister to do as he pleases without giving regard to rules, law, public interest, and impact on fundamental rights of other citizens.
Maelanga said he believes Prime Minister Hou is determined to do what is right for the nation and within this context urges him to do the right thing by immediately removing Manetoali as Minister for Forest and Research.