By EDDIE OSIFELO
OWNER of Fairtrade Limited logging company, Chahabule Amoi, and Owner of Agro LBS Limited, Lemuel Beti Siosi has responded to the front page News Item, title, ‘Logging Company owned by government MP fined $150k – Greasy Deals’, on The Island Sun, issue 3902.
Amoi claimed his company negotiated the export of the round Logs by observing all requirement issued by the Commissioner of Forestry following Invitation by Agro LBS Limited and the Landowners to assist with selling the felled logs.
Whatever was violated under the conditions of the Milling Licence granted to Agro LBS Limited and the operations leading up to the Exporting of the Round logs had been settled through the Penalty of $150k, imposed by the Ministry of Forest and Research Limited.
Mr Siosi, told the paper that he is disappointed and utterly disgusted by the way this news was reported.
Siosi said, “he was never contacted regarding this news item”.
He told the paper, the news carried biased and unbalanced information, and believes it is intentionally done to “defame our characters and upset business confidence, by creating a flagship, that entice suspicion, dishonesty, and corruption, against both of us personally, and our companies”.
He also believes this news item carries the interest of those who wish to operate in the area, by suffocating locals and provoke hatred among Landowner families by using the ‘Power of Money’.
And whilst landowners fight in court, they harvest and rob our people from our rightful earnings. Wakeup People!
In the news item, it was also reported that the receipt for the imposed fine was made out for $160k, when the penalty was only for $150k.
“This leaves a sum of $10k, and I believe the public is begging for an answer, as to where the $10k was paid.
“Whatever is implied in here, it is only fair for the paper to provide a copy of the receipt, to justify their claim?”
Siosi claimed there was a chronology of events where there were correspondences between Agro LBS Ltd, the Ministry of Forestry, and the Attorney Generals Chamber, following the declaration of the ‘State of Public Emergency’ due to the Pandemic.
“The intention to export the logs was not done in the dark.
“The impacts of the Pandemic on Business houses forced Agro LBS Limited to apply for exemption to the Minister of Forestry, who had the Powers under the Forestry Act, where approval is sought for a ‘one-off’export of round logs.
“Agro LBS Limited had supporting documents in their possession where the Minister had issued instructions to facilitate legal Instruments, to allow for export of round logs.
“In the application Agro LBS Limited stated that the fall on demand for timber, on the local market, as most people were returning to their home village on around April/May 2020, daily income was dropped considerably, /and there was no use investing more money into processing Timber at that time.
“The return on sales will not cover the costs.
“A decision had to be made at that time as logs being a perishable product, cannot be left unattended as they will lose their value.
“During the same time, the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) was the language on the streets, offices and almost on all corners one turns.
“It was going to be a Saviour on our Economy.
“Agro LBS Limited saw the application for Exemption to export round logs under the Milling Licence as a Package similar to ESP, except that instead of waiting for the handout, they prefer to actually work for it.”
Siosi told the paper, after waiting for more than 8 months the accumulated cost of operation money was becoming so difficult to bear when there was no return.
He said it was then that he approached Amoi briefing him on the matter and kindly asking him to assist them.
“At that time if Mr Amoi, had refused to assist, all stakeholders, including the government would have lost revenue.
“Thankfully Mr Amoi considered the offer.
“Amoi, a leader who has a big heart to assist locals, and as usual agreed to help.
“By agreeing, Amoi gave hope to both Agro LBS Limited and the landowners who consented to Fairtrade Logging Company Limited.
“This is how and when Fairtrade Logging Company Limited came into the scene.”
Amoi said “I applied to Ministry of Forestry for export license to clear the Logs.
“A fine was imposed and as a result we had to pay $150, 000.”
Following payment of the fine, the Ministry granted Fairtrade logging Company Limited an export license, where the round logs had been exported.
Amoi further said “by exporting, we ensure the Government, Landowners, Agro LBS Limited, and his company benefits from its resources. Moreover locals benefiting from their resources!”
Amoi and Siosi refused to comment on “landowner politics”, however they welcome the High Court Cases taken against them and they will respond to the claim at the right time and the right place.