Thursday, 21 June 2007 10:28 AM

Auluta Basin Delegation Complete Talks with Government

Tribal leaders of the Auluta Basin Palm Oil Project have concluded a successful consultative mission with National Government Officials this week.

The delegation consisting of Auluta Basin and East Fataleka Resource Owners Association, which also included the High Council of Chiefs and Central Trust Board members, were pleased with the outcome of talks with the government.

The group held discussions with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Lands and the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock on separate occasions.

Group Spokesperson, Philip Bara, said the high-level discussions were made to inform the government of landowners' readiness by surrendering customary land in preparation towards the acquisition hearings and registration of customary land.

"We assured the government that we want a smooth running of the Malaita Oil Palm project and to fulfill the many dreams and vision of our traditional leaders and the ruling government of the day," Mr Bara said.

Chief Bara said landowners are worried about further delays in the project and urged the government to properly fund the project.

"Our coming here is to protect and defend this palm oil project because this project will give benefit for everyone and the national government," he said. "We do not want corrupt practices to be involved in the process."

Land mobilization took place 3 years ago and has resolved many land disputes in the region.

Mr Bara said this was achieved as a result of the introduction of the Customary Land Recording Act and the group wants the government to reactivate the Customary Land Recognition Act of 2000 to empower traditional leaders to advance the project.

The delegation thanked the Grand Coalition Government, especially Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare for the generous support towards the consultative mission.

"We particularly appreciate the Prime Minister for his positive response to our discussion," Bara said. "We believe Mr Sogavare's door is open to accept people to hold talks on important issues rather than going out in the media."