EDITORIAL- Local interest must protected above all

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GOVERNMENT has a responsibility to protect the interest of Solomon Islanders.

This should be foremost in every decision it makes.

That local interest should always come first before that of outsiders.

If current laws do not address that, leaders are obligated to devise legislations that will ensure local interests are protected, and that the resources of this nation benefit the people.

As it is now, we have allowed so much of our country for outsiders.

So much so that soon, Solomon Islanders may become spectators in their own country.

Already, we have seen the retail industry, a reserved business sector for locals, given away to foreigners.

Despite repeated protests and Government promises to address the issue, authorities and leaders failed miserably to stop outsiders intruding into this sector.

While local canteens and shops are closing down, foreign-owned shops are thriving.

We saw Bangladesh nationals coming in and opening up retail shops in as far as Visale in west Guadalcanal, and Ngalimbiu in the north.

Lately, we saw logging companies venturing into the shipping industry.

Okay, the shipping industry may not be in the reserved business list, but it’s one of the sectors that locals are at the helm.

Any government that keeps the interest of its people at heart should ensure the interest and survival of local ship operators are protected at all times.

But sad to note, a number of logging companies have already been allowed to enter and compete in the industry.

These logging companies have lots of money – money they generated from our forests.

They are capable of purchasing big and new brand ships.

Financially, our struggling ship operators cannot compete with them.

This is why the Government must help and protect their businesses.

It can do that by protecting the industry and supporting their businesses to grow and expand so that they can purchase big and fast crafts.

And instead of MPs competing directly with private ship operators using tax-payers’ funded ships, that funding should be used to assist s local operators.

The Government is urged to look into the issue and quickly address it.

As Opposition leader Mathew Wale rightly stated, there should be protection for Solomon Islanders in the shipping industry.

If more logging companies are allowed into the industry, the sector will easily fall into foreign hands.

It would be a terrible situation for the country if this happens.