Tuesday, 19 April 2011 10:09 AM

Solomon's High Commissioner Admits Problems if Logging Cease

The Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia has admitted that the demise of the Solomons' logging industry could spark tensions among landowners and the government.

Last month, a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute warned that there's a high risk of conflict re-emerging once the Solomon's runs out of forests of commercial value in about 2015.

It recommended that Australian and New Zealand troops to stay on the ground for another ten to fifteen years and possibly longer. The Australian government's funding for the mission runs out in 2013 but it says it won't leave until Solomon Islands is ready to stand on its own feet.

"I think we have a real concern to worry about when the logging in this country runs out. Because it covers about 60 percent of the country's GDP, 60-70 percent. And certainly it will cause some friction and tensions between our leaders and also landowners as well," said Beraki Jino, Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia.

"We know it's going to be a big challenge for the Solomon Islands government and the economy of the country. And we also are looking at ways to fill the gap when it comes to 2015 or about that time, and we're trying to look at alternatives and it can take longer and we look at the mining sector. But this will take longer, certainly beyond five years."

A recent report released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has argued for a external security guarantee, highlighting RAMSI as "a useful vehicle for that."

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