THE Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Christain Ramofafia has refuted claims in the Solomon Star alleging him and his director’s involvement in the recent beche-de-mer saga.
Responding to the articles carried in the Solomon Star Issue nos, 6967, 6968 and 6990, Ramofafia said the allegations alleging him and the director’s involvement and teaming up with beche-de-mer exporters were inaccurate and plainly wrong.
“At no time did we entertain or collude with the exporters as claimed by the Solomon Star reporter Mr Aatai in his articles.
“Our actions on all legal cases with regards to the beche-de-mer saga and all other legal cases involving the Ministry for that matter, were guided by legal advices tendered to the Ministry of Fisheries by the Office of the Attorney General.
“If we have erred, we have erred according to the AG Advices tendered to us.”
Ramofafia stressed that the office of the Attorney General’s position on this particular case was, it needed the High Court to resolve the question of whether regulation 13A of the Fisheries Regulations had been repealed, despite an earlier position it had taken that it had been.
He revealed that from the high court ruling they now know that regulation 13A is still in force.
However, he stressed that according to an advice received from the Office of the Attorney General, this matter is not settled as yet, as the High Court ruling is now being appealed to the Court of Appeal by the beche-de-mer exporters.
“We want to let the public know that at no time did we have acted outside the advices tendered to us by the Office of the Attorney General and we have no intention of doing so given that the Office of the Attorney General is the Chief legal advisor to SIG which includes the Ministry of Fisheries as well. In the case before us, we will be guided also by the ruling of the Court of Appeal.
“We further wish to inform the public that contrary to Solomon Star reported Mr John Aatai’s claims, we have cooperated with the Office of Director of Prosecution and Police in providing all information relating to the case between the exporters and the Crown.
“We also wish to inform the Public that the Ministry of Fisheries under our leadership will continue to do its best to bring revenue to the country and its people from the harvest of its fisheries resources.”
As reported by Mr Aatai in Solomon Star earlier in the year, the total revenue secured by the Ministry of Fisheries in 2017 is about $339 million, a Ministry contribution that is second only to IRD and Customs and the highest ever secured by the Ministry of Fisheries.
“A Ministry that engages itself in corrupt practices would never have secured such revenue for its people.”