By GEORGE MANFORD
WITH the national fisheries ministry yet to issue out export permits, drama is already brewing in Auki over the lucrative Beche-de-mer trade.
A Chinese businessman known as Mr Sing, who made headlines previously for illegally buying and stocking dried beche-de-mer in his hardware shop in Auki, is reported to have been issued with a harvesting licence by Malaita’s provincial government.
This has irked members of public and employees of the province, who decry this as corruption at best.
Sources within the provincial government say the Chinese man is still under investigation with an active case, and according to fisheries ordinance should not even be considered for a licence.
“According to fisheries ordinance anyone who illegally bought or harvested marine species at and during any ban period should not be favoured or granted with any licence.”
Sources add that Mr Sing has not yet furbished the court with documents to defend his innocence over his case.
Meanwhile, the fisheries office in Auki have denied issuing Mr Sing with any harvesting licence.
They admit he had approached them demanding endorsement of his request for a licence, but maintain refusing his advances.
“Surprisingly Mr Sing arrive at our office and force us to recommend his licence issued by Inland Revenue of Malaita province.
“We believe such movement without approval of fisheries office here in Auki is not right and illegal.
“We should work together to control such dealing which will cause unfairness to our Malaitan people.”
The fisheries office also reveals that some Chinese beche-de-mer buyers are yet to complete their $30,000-business licence.
“Information have it that some of Chinese here in Auki only pay less amount of money and continue with the harvesting which is not legal.”
Mr Sing is married to a woman from Malaita and is operating a hardware shop and the popular Sea Sound resort at Gwaunaru’u airport area.