By EDDIE OSIFELO
THE managing director of Orion Limited, Chan Chee Min accuses Solomon Forest Association (SFA) of breaching the Investment Act.
Chan alleged that SFA did not get any approval from Foreign Investment Board to operate in Solomon Islands.
He said SFA must firstly prove that the association is a legal entity with their activities approved under the various applicable laws of Solomon Islands.
“SFA requires a Foreign Investment approval to operate in Solomon Islands.
“Investment Act (Cap. 142). Section 2 (a) states a body, corporate or any other organization established in Solomon Islands, in which a foreign investor holds the whole or any part of equity or ownership in the capital, must get FIB approval,” he said.
“So where is your Foreign Investment Board approval?” Min asked.
He said his network reveals that SFA members have adopted their “standard” Technology, Management and Marketing Agreement with indigenous resource owners.
“Has those Technology Management and Marketing Agreement being submitted, vetted and approved by the Foreign Investment Board as required by the Investment Act (Cap. 142) Section 4 (b)?” he asked.
Chan Chee Min assures SFA that there will be many more to come.
However, former Finance Minister and Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo said there was no need for SFA to get FIB approval, but individual companies in the association must get it because each one came with capital and expertise.
Lilo said the then government decided not to encourage SFA to register under Charitable Act because it is wrong body which targets mainly former prostitutes, ex-prisoners and people living with disability.
He said this was the reason why the then government came up with Forest Resources and Timber Utilisation (Timber Licensing and Tree Felling) Regulations to allow SFA to register under in order for the logging companies to form under one entity.
Lilo said it was a good idea to give responsibility to SFA to regulate the logging companies in order to enforce the laws like Code of Practice, internal screening among themselves and follow environmental and forestry laws.
Lilo said this happened so that there are good credible operators and landowners can choose from within SFA.
Consequently, Lilo said some landowners spoiled the idea when they displayed cheating and wrong attitudes.
He said such attitude may come about because of foreign influences or carelessness of government.