A Government taskforce on the reactivation of the Russell Islands Plantations limited (RIPEL) has presented its report to the Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua yesterday morning.Chairman of the Taskforce, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Rural Development Hon Fred Fono, presented the report to Dr Sikua.
Mr Fono said the Taskforce has had two rounds of consultation with relevant stakeholders of RIPEL, including representation of the workers, the landowners, the Investment Corporation of Solomon Islands (ICSI), the Central Province Government as well as the Commissioner of Lands and other experts.
Mr Fono also commended the cooperation of the stakeholders in assisting the Taskforce Secretariat in completing the report, although he said, the Taskforce Secretariat has had some difficulties in the commitment of some parties to assist, that has resulted is a slight delay to the completion of the report.
However, Mr Fono told the Prime Minister that the Taskforce has identified six options in dealing with the RIPEL situation on its report. These include the restoration of law and order in Russell Islands, the establishment of the Government legal team to pursue the matter, liquidation of RIPEL, nationalisation of RIPEL, negotiate a pay out of RIPEL, and the establishment of a Commission of Enquiry into the RIPEL situation.
The Prime Minister commended the Taskforce for their great effort in the timely completion of the report, adding the RIPEL issue is an urgent national priority of the CNURA Government with the overall objective to find a solution to the various issues involved in the RIPEL matter and get the company back in operation.
Mr Sikua said the report entitled (The Report to Government of the Reactivation of RIPEL) will go before Cabinet when it meets tomorrow.
Mr Sikua said Cabinet will make the decision on the six options in the report and decide on how to deal with the RIPEL issue.
Dr Derek Sikua established the Taskforce on July 18 2008 to seek constructive and substantive outcomes to resolve the ongoing problems associated with RIPEL, and to propose feasible options to the government.
The RIPEL estate is the largest coconut plantation in the Southern hemisphere with 72,000 acres of which 22,000 acres were under copra production with another 50,000 acres undeveloped.
Other members of the Taskforce included the Minister of Commerce, Industries and Employment Hon Billy Hilly, the Minister for Agriculture Hon Selwyn Riumana, the Permanent Secretary of Commerce, Industries and Employment Mr Jeffrey Wickham and the Special Secretary to the Prime Minister Mr John Keniapisia.