The Parliamentary Opposition Group says the Cabinet’s decision to give zero duty to Bintang Company to export bauxite is not in the best interest of our people and the economy of this country.
In a statement today, it says the people of Solomon Islands must hold the Prime Minister and his Cabinet responsible for giving away millions of dollars of peoples’ money to a foreign company.
As such the Opposition Group has lashed out at the response by the Chairman of Caucus in trying to defend the Prime Minister’s text messages to Indonesian company, Bintang which sparked public outrage in recent days.
The Opposition Group says the Chairman’s statement was disgraceful and only shows lack of policy intent.
“Whilst we welcome investment by genuine investors into the country, the chairman has failed to provide any argument for the long term economic and financial benefits to the resource owners and the country as a whole,” it said.
The Opposition Group says any foreign investment must be dealt with by appropriate government authorities and not through direct involvement with the Prime Minister.
“That is how the business of investing whether it is foreign or local should be handled. What has transpired in regards to the bauxite issue is not what is expected under how this country should deal with foreign investors. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet have clearly sabotaged these processes,” it said.
Moreover, the Opposition Office has questioned whether the Exemption Committee of the Ministry of Finance had been consulted when dealing with the issue of tax exemption.
“The Exemption Committee as the specialized body responsible for tax exemption should be allowed to deal with this matter, if it has not been the case. If the Exemption Committee had been left out from dealing with this matter then the Prime Minister should provide the public an answer as to why the committee has not been engaged.”
Meanwhile, the Opposition Group pointed out that clause 8(7) of the Customs and Excise Act clearly spelt out that any decisions pertaining to granting of exemptions must be made “…in the best interest of the economy of Solomon Islands..”.
“So how does the granting of zero duty to Bintang done in the best interest of the country when millions of dollars of revenue is given away just like this?”
Press Release: Office of the Leader of Opposition