THE Ministry of Forest and Research (MoFR) has described Alfred Sasako’s article as a misconception on the path of the Legal Notice 114 – Forest Resource and Timber Utilisation (Timber Licensing and Tree Felling) Regulation 2007.
“It is somewhat an ambitious attempt by the author to deprive potential Solomon Islanders and resource owners from taking part in the logging business and industry,” responded the Forestry Office in an issued statement.
It says there is nothing unprecedented and illegal as the nine logging companies referred to on the Island Sun front page issue of August 13, 2018 have complied with all the legal procedures.
That includes becoming a legally registered and a legal business entity with the Company Haus; thus when a logging company operates with a felling license being issued, it is legal; the statement explains.
The Forestry office says the matter raised is a non-issue; it has been deliberated and explained previously already.
It says the Ministry’s stance on the LN 114 is that, it has been so vocal on foreign companies yet is so silent about indigenous or locally owned companies in this essence.
With that, it has been made clear that the Ministry of Forest and Research is not accepting any new applications for Felling Licences from Foreign logging companies as previously explained in a press release.
However, the Ministry on its efforts not to discriminate and engage in a level playing field on its action gives the indigenous or locally owned companies’ privileges, it says.
The Forestry office then questions why such complain against locally owned companies – whether fully owned by indigenous Solomon Islanders or partly owned through marriage is of interest.
“A local Solomon Islander, male or female marrying an expatriate, Asian or European, should be given the right to flourish with their business of interest or choice, thus logging business and related businesses are no exception.”
According to the statement it has noted that all of those companies mentioned in Sasako’s article are indigenous or locally owned companies.
Or are either partnered operations – meaning either the wife or husband is a local for that matter, thus it gives them the right to register as a local business entity at the Company Haus, and have the opportunities to make business in this country, it explains.
The statement adds the Ministry of Forestry and Research ensures that LN 114 is implemented accordingly while making sure that the logging business and related opportunities are available entrepreneur pathways for Solomon Islanders to venture into.
“Hence the granting of felling licenses to indigenous or locally owned business is done in the best interest of the government and the people of this country.
After all both the foreign and local logging companies have contributed enormously to the government revenue collection,” it adds.
The statement then dismisses allegations that the commissioner has failed in his duties is not true and holds no weight.
“Everyone else is complying accordingly with the legal procedures.”
The Forestry office then reiterate in questioning on whose interest the author is vesting on, Solomon Islanders or Foreigners?
“The Ministry of Forest and Research is looking forward to that time when Solomon Islanders can fully participate in forestry related businesses and development.
“Like any other businesses Solomon Islander’s operate, they are here to stay and contribute fully to the growing economy of this country in perpetuity.”