Thursday, 14 August 2008 12:50 PM

Government Urged to Fast Track Palm Oil Project

Tribal leaders of Auluta Basin in East Malaita have re-echoed their call on the National Government to step up the implementation of the Auluta Basin Palm Oil Project.

Group spokesperson, Rocky Hardy Tisa said Auluta leaders in the last two years have committed themselves to settle land issues facing the project in anticipation of extra support from the National Government.

Mr Tisa said inadequate logistical support from relevant government authorities slowed down the process of land recording and registration in areas earmarked for the project.

Besides, Mr Tisa said leaders have recommended to the National Government to immediately appoint a National Land Recording Officer and to Gazette important agreements signed previously to ensure a speedy land recording process.

So far, 6,000 hectares of customary owned land suitable for palm oil growing was recorded.

Under the land mobilization program, the land recording work will be followed by land acquisition and land registration before the development component of the project by a potential investor.

In a meeting with relevant government ministers including Deputy Prime Minister Fred Fono this week, Tisa said Auluta leaders expressed their strong desire to see government support towards the project.

Following the pronouncement of the project in 2006, Mr Tisa said, government support, on logistics was obviously slowed down - creating fear that the project might not go ahead.

He said different tribal groups in Auluta have willingly freed up their land for the project after foreseeing the socio-economic benefits of the project for the province and the nation as a whole.

"It is now up to the government to facilitate assistance towards the project so that people can participate in the economic development of the country," Tisa said.

Tisa said people in the region are starting to raise doubts on the National Government's seriousness to implement the project which was among some of the priority areas in the government's rural advancement policy framework.

"Many things have been said about the project in the last two years but we as resource owners fail to see any tangible progress regarding oil palm development and today we want a serious government to answer to our call, as Malaitan's celebrate it's 25th Anniversary as a Province," Tisa said.