The PM made the clarification in Parliament on Monday in light of the question by Member of Parliament for Auki/Langalanga Matthew Wale on the status and progress of those iron bars.
Wale’s question is for the PM to inform the honourable house on the status and progress made in selling the bars of iron stored at the Central Bank of Solomon Islands.
Mr Hou in his replay said the powers to make decisions on what happens behind the bars are vested with the Minister for Culture and Tourism.
He said the powers are derived from the protection of wreckages and war wreckages Act, an act to secure the protection of wrecked vessels and aircrafts and war wreckage lying in Solomon Islands from interference by unauthorised persons to control the export of war wreckage and for connected purposes.
However, he said at this point of time, the Minister has not decided on what to do with those items.
“This is because the test that has been carried out on the items to determine what really those irons are is on halt following some preliminary attempts by the CBSI staff to do testing ended up with the staff itchy skin with burning sensations with their eyes,” he added.
Mr Hou said because of that, there were plans to get a specialist to do the tests, but later were not done as it is too expensive.
However, he added that there was a report provided by a group called Tasman Marine Exploration Limited, who was contracted to do the assessment and to value the findings, but the preliminary reports shows no concrete evidence of any proper tests conducted to determine the composition of the compounds on that materials and the subsequent values.
This paper understands the bars were found by local divers at the bottom of the sea just outside the Ontong Java atolls in the outer islands of Malaita province and were brought to Honiara by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) as it is against the constitution and law surrounding such findings.
By IAN KAUKUI