Monday, 2 July 2007 9:34 AM

Western Province Moves for Sole Ownership of Soltai

Talks of a possible sale of Soltai Fishing and Processing Company to a foreign group have been opposed by the Premier of Western Province.

Mr Lokopio said that if the government wants to sell its 51 percent shares because it cannot afford to sustain Soltai operations, Western province which holds 49 percent share, is ready to pay off the government shares to solely own the company.

During the province's full assembly meeting in the provincial capital Gizo last week, Premier Lokopio said his government rejects the move, saying it is not in the best interest of his people. Mr Lokopio said recent media reports revealed that the National government is planning to sell its 51percent share in Soltai Fishing Company to a foreign investor.

He said one major reason why his provincial government is opposed to the sell is that if Soltai is the fact that it will most likely be a foreign owned group that will stand to benefit. Mr Lokopio said that most of the benefits from the operation will not remain in the country.

Premier Lokopio said Soltai Fishing and Processing Company is a state owned investment and as such any plan to sell the shares must come after wide consultation between share holders and the people of Solomon Islands. He said as the host and a shareholder in the company, Western province maintains that Soltai should be locally owned and managed.

Premier Lokopio called those wanting to sell government's shares in Soltai Company, to discuss the idea with his provincial executive.

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