Govt plans rice-import ban
By Alfred Sasako
THE Government is planning to ban the import of rice, blaming Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) for its drastic action, it was revealed last night.
Rice, which has become a staple food for Solomon Islands families, cost an estimated $400 million a year in imports.
Sources told Island Sun last night that the planned ban would begin with imposing higher taxes on rice imports, which would lead to increases in the price of rice sold locally.
It is not clear when the new taxes would kick in, but sources said it would almost be immediate.
“This is because the Government believes eating rice contributes to the spread of infection from Non-Communicable Disease (NCD). One way to discourage this is to impose higher taxes on imports of rice so that people eat less rice,” the sources said.
The sources said the matter was discussed between Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela and his Deputy and Minister for Finance and Treasury, Manasseh Sogavare, in recent days.
“Both agree that the way to combat NCDs is to impose higher taxes on rice so that it would be difficult for families to buy it.”
The news comes amidst fresh revelation that some Members of Parliament have been using a foreign-owned barge to transport goods bought with CDF grants from JQY Enterprises Ltd.
“These cargoes were being moved by this barge under cover of darkness from Alligator Creek,” eyewitnesses said.
The barge is said to be owned by a company called AAA, which many believe is a subsidiary of JQY Enterprise Ltd.
Each time the barge comes to Alligator Creek all the MPs whose consignments are being sent would arrive there, one eyewitness said.
“High profile MPs are involved. They would be at Alligator Creek until midnight when the barge sails before they go home,” the eyewitness said.
The eyewitnesses said this had been going on for quite some time.
Meanwhile the new MP for Gizo/Kolombangara Lanelle Tanangada is expected to be sworn in as Minister for Youth, Women and Sports this week. She replaces Ms Tuki whose election was declared null and void in the court of disputed returns.