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Malaita govt responds to matter ‘undermining’ its authority



MALAITA provincial government (MPG) has shut down two retail shops in Auki owned by Chinese businessmen.

Reason behind the closures, according to MPG, is “dubious means” by the Chinese businesses in obtaining their provincial business licences.

Apparently, this issue is being seen as MPG responding to a matter which it says had undermined its authority.

Speaking to the paper yesterday, acting Premier Mr Nelson Lenty, said the business closures last week has nothing to do with geopolitics, rather it is simply MPG applying the law.

Lenty said the MPG had learnt that the businesses had obtained their licences from an officer from the province’s admin team, who issued them without approval by the MPG executive. And, Lenty says this was the wrong channel to obtain a provincial business licence, therefore illegal.

He explains that the Malaita for Rural Advancement Alliance (MARA) government since coming into power had adopted the provincial Financial Management Ordinance (FMO), which says a provincial business licence must first be approved by the provincial government executive before being granted to the investor or applicant.

In the case of the closed businesses, Lenty said their licences were granted without the knowledge and approval of the MPG executive.

While Lenty does not say exactly which provincial officer is implicated in the “dubious process”, he adds that the FMO draws a boundary on the roles and duties of the provincial secretary (PS) and the deputy provincial secretary (DPS).

Meanwhile, Lenty clarifies that last week’s closure does not mean that it is the end of the road for the two businesses.

He encourages them to re-apply and to follow the proper channel for a legal provincial business licence.

“The shop-owners must not assume that the closed down of the shops is to prevent them from business operation or services in Auki.

“The grant of their business license is seen partly illegal or incomplete and they got punished for it.

“My advice to them is to reapply and allow the applications take complete process until reaching executive decision,” he said.    

Lenty said an executive meeting is being proposed for early next month and if the shop-owners are considering reapplying for business licences, they (MPG executive) might look at the applications during the meeting.

On this note, Lenty clamped down on comments made by a senior Malaita province admin staff earlier, which described MPG executive meetings as “expensive to convene just to look at business license applications, and that applications must process even without executive”.

Lenty said these comments reflect the person’s lack of respect for protocol, processes and law.

He said ordinances, channels and processes are parts of the fabric of good governance, and are established in every provincial government.

Regarding executive meetings, he says it is an ‘integral part’ of that good governance.

“Executive meetings held after every three months and there are also extra-ordinary executive meetings that should not use as excuse.

“What happened had undermined the executive government of the province and they will ensure it won’t happen again.”