Tuesday, 28 October 2008 1:20 PM

Loggers Said to Have Backed NAPSI

At least six Malaysian logging companies, mostly family based, are reported to be supporting the formation of the National Alliance Party of Solomon Islands (NAPSI), led by Honiara businessman, Bobo Dettke.

This was according to a well placed source within the logging industry who was interviewed by the National Express this week.

He said that Mr. Dettke does not have that sort of spare money to play around with, making reference to the payment of $50,000 to each of the sixteen Government MPs to join NAPSI.

The source said that the money was originally paid directly to the MPs as incentive payment to join NAPSI. However they were turned into loans against the MPs' terminal grants when they resigned from NAPSI after the Prime Minister found out about NAPSI and gave the sixteen MPs the ultimatum to either resign from NAPSI or get the sack.

He said that on the other hand at least five of the six logging companies want to support Mr. Dettke's initiative hoping to have some control over key ministries particularly the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Forests, and the Ministry of Environment and Conservation.

He said that with RAMSI providing advisors to these ministries the loggers are finding it quite difficult to get the kind of extra money they used to get before RAMSI came here.

The source said that one obvious method through which these loggers used to get really good money was through the granting of duty remissions where many of these loggers would get a few extra millions of dollars on each shipment.

He explained that out of these logging companies, one of these logging companies is a license holder and has had very good connections to the former Government now in Opposition. The other five logging companies are family based Malaysian companies which do not have logging license of their own and are operating in Solomon Islands on someone else's license on sub-contracting arrangements.

According to our source these five companies are being paid a sub-contract price ranging from $30 USD to $35 USD per cubic meter and when they were given duty remissions in the past they would normally be getting in total $70 USD to $90 USD per cubic meter.

He said that one reason why they were supporting Mr. Dettke's NAPSI initiative was because they were hoping to get the Prime Minister to appoint the MP for Gela Mark Kemakeza to become the new Minister for Forests when his brother Sir Allan Kemakeza was sent to prison.

Mr. Dettke submitted a letter signed by the sixteen Government MPs to the Prime Minister calling for Mark Kemakeza's appointment to the Ministry of Forests but Prime Minister Sikua appointed Mr Job Tausinga to that Ministry instead.

Our source said that he does not think that the group and Mr. Dettke will give up on the possibility of taking control of the Government or the possibility of changing the current Prime Minister with someone they would find easy to get what they want, in the key Government Ministries such as Finance, Forests, and Environment.

Meanwhile the logging industry source says that the Solomon Islands Government need to find ways to seek the assistance of the Malaysian Government to fight against these loggers who are at the bottom of corruption in Solomon Islands.

He said that the Solomon Islands Government should ask the Malaysian Government to provide Malaysian Government seconded officers to work in the Ministry of Finance particularly taxation, the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Forestry.


Source: National Express

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