Friday, October 24, 2008

War of words Lilo takes on Wong again

ENVIRONMENT minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and Russell Islands Plantation Estates Limited (RIPEL) chairman Patrick Wong are at each other again.

Mr Lilo claimed Mr Wong had, on two occasions, tried to set him up.“Mr Wong sent his two associates Brian and Don to arrange a meeting with me,” Mr Lilo said.“The recent one was in May when I was acting finance minister. The two men came and said Mr Wong wants to talk to me. When I ask them what is this about, they replied: RIPEL issue. At that instant, I told them to go away,” Mr Lilo said.He said he cannot discuss the RIPEL issue with Mr Wong because this was not a personal issue. Mr Lilo said nothing was offered to him but he questioned the motive behind such approaches.“I believe Mr Wong tried to set me up to discredit my reputation,” he said.But Mr Wong has described Mr Lilo’s version of events as a lie. “There is only one solution to this argument,” Mr Wong said.“It is to allow the police to fully investigate this alleged corruption of $3 million Mr Lilo demanded from my men.“This investigation must be uninterrupted, unfretted, and not influenced or pressured in any way whatsoever.“With Mr Lilo’s own self confession and admission on SIBC two nights ago, that the minister referred to was him, a proper investigation must take its course.”Mr Wong called on Mr Lilo to step down to allow for a proper investigation.“If he refuses, the prime minister must take action. Otherwise as day follows night, Mr Lilo can never assure the nation that he will not interfere with this investigation,” Mr Wong said.He added Mr Lilo’s conversation with Brian and Don was recorded on a CD.“SIBC and other local radio stations should play the CD. That would give Solomon Islanders the opportunity to listen and decide for themselves,” Mr Wong said.He added a copy of the CD is now with police.“I hope the police will bring the truth out with their investigation,” he said.


Munda hit

AN earth tremor that hit parts of Western Province early this week damaged Munda Airport runway and left an international jet stranded there.

Controller of Civil Aviation Ben Kere said one of his staff was sent there to assess the damage.Reports from Munda said the quake caused a major crack on the western end of the runway, which is now sealed off.The damages prevented a private overseas jet that landed there hours earlier from leaving.The plane is still there.Gibson Ngumi from the Civil Aviation office in Munda said the earth tremor shook Munda at about 7pm Monday.Mr Ngumi said quake caused a major crack to the runway.“It’s just fortunate that no plane was landing or taking off that time. It could have been a major disaster if that happens,” Mr Ngumi added.He said crack, which is about one and half a metre deep, was located 400 metres from the western end of the runway.“It is located right in the landing zone where aircrafts normally land,” he said.Despite the damage, Mr Ngumi said Solomon Airlines aircrafts could still land at Munday.He said the runway is about 1600 metres long. Following the damage less than half of the runway is being closed.Mr Ngumi said the stranded jet needs about 1500 metres of runway to take off.“Because of the problem the jet will have to wait until repair work is done,” he said. But local air service, he said, will continue.“Solomon Airlines flights to Munda continue this week. They can still land and take off within the usable runway space,” Mr Ngumi said.He said repair work, which involves refilling the crack, is already underway.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Solomon Islands Rejects 'Binding Obligation' in EPA

Solomon Islands is maintaining its position against the European Union's (EU) pressure on Pacific Nations for binding commitments in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group and the EU.

Deputy Prime Minister Fred Fono, who represented Solomon Islands at the 6th ACP Leaders Summit in Acra, Ghana, earlier this month, said there are outstanding issues which make Pacific States susceptible to binding obligations.Recently the Pacific region resumed negotiations with the European Commission with the view to finalizing a Goods only component of an EPA with discussions on a Services component to be negotiated later. Progress was made in some areas, but a considerable number of issues remain outstanding. However, the EC's persistent pressure for inclusion of binding commitments in the EPA on intellectual property rights, government procurement and other areas pose problems for Pacific States in relations to their capacity to accept binding obligations in such areas at this time.Fono said Solomon Islands maintains the position by Pacific ACP Group that the EPA should be more than a simple trade agreement."It should be a trade and development agreement and form the basis for a long-term relationship between the PACP Group and the EU"."For Solomon Islands export taxes constitute an important source of revenue for Government, and, the EC's insistence on its exclusion in an EPA is a cause for great concern as the obvious ramification would be one of serious fiscal problems," he explained. Fono said Solomon Islands also recognize the problems posed by the EC's demand for MFN in EPAs as this not only contradicts the Enabling Clause that fosters possible South-South trade cooperation but more so greatly inhibits policy space which is required to both develop value added and processed products and for the protection of infant industries. "Such a scenario prompts me to think that the EC's intention is to let us remain as suppliers of raw materials forever," he said. Solomon Islands is part of the Pacific ACP configuration negotiating an EPA with the EU. At the deadline of December 2007, only Fiji and Papua New Guinea signed interim agreements with the European Commission. And in spite of that, Pacific Leaders, in their most recent Summit in Niue agreed that the region continue to collectively negotiate a comprehensive EPA under the direction of the PACP Trade Ministers, and that a comprehensive EPA should be accepted only when all parties agree. Pacific Leaders agreed that the comprehensive EPA must reflect the differing circumstances and interests of all the PACPS.

Source: Solomon Times

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ontong Java Threatened by Climate Change .

The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Mr. Rence Sore has stated that relocation would not be forced upon inhabitants of the remote atoll of Ontong Java in the Solomon Islands.

The Ontong Java atoll is currently being threatened by the effects of climate change.According to Mr. Sore, the relocation for Ontong Java atoll dwellers would only be done through intensive consultations.Mr. Sore said they have been living next to the sea all their lives, eating fish and coconuts so these Islanders cannot be relocated to a place different from what they are used to.He said the government is still talking to the people of Ontong Java on how best the islanders can be relocated.But Mr. Sore said relocation for Solomon Islands is not the only option and that forced relocation could be a potential flash point in the future.Mr. Sore said salt water intrusion had devastated taro swamps in Ontong Java atoll, one of the Islander's major food crops.The Ontong Java atoll is an outlying part of the Malaita Province and its entire size is about 1400 km² and there are only 12 km² of land, spread out over 122 small islands. About 2000 people live on the atoll. (

Source: Solomon Times


The Ministry of Rural Development has spent more than eight-point-two million dollars from it's 50-million dollars Livelihood funding.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Rural Development Fred Fono was responding to criticisms that there has been little or no signs of the money being pumped into rural areas.But Mr Fono says that under the government's rural development policy, a lot of projects are being funded under his ministry.He says that out of the 50 constituencies, only 28 have so far had projects funded totaling more than eight-million dollars.Mr Fono says other constituencies will have their projects funded soon.He says the delay in disbursing money to projects and the delay in endorsement of projects is holding up the implementation of the policy but is optimistic a lot more projects for other constituencies will be funded before the end of the year.Mr Fono says other funding through other ministries will have projects handed over in the next few days while the funding under the ministry of Fisheries, project proposals are being screened.He says the government is looking at diverting all funds meant for rural area developments come under one ministry in the future.

Source: SIBC