By ANDREW FANASIA
CENTRAL Province has agreed to lease on long term the whole island of Tulagi to Chinese firm China Sam Enterprise Group Ltd to be developed into a “Special Economic Zone”.
Premier Stanley Manetiva signed the agreement with Sam Group reps in Honiara last month.
The agreement also mentioned lease of islands surrounding Tulagi to the Chinese firm.
Sam Group prides itself as one of China’s top hi-tech investors.
The parties signed the agreement following the Government’s September 16 decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.
In turn, Sam Group will provide a Master Plan for the development of Tulagi island and all surrounding islands.
When this is done, both parties will arrange and follow up on all issues that are needed with the people and the investors.
Tulagi is the nation’s former capital city before its relocation to Honiara on Guadalcanal after the Second World War (WWII).
It is currently the seat of Central Province’s political power.
The island holds a lot of historical significance not only to Central Province but also the country.
Under the agreement, Central Province will apply all necessary beneficiary policy, taxation policy, tourism encouragement special policy, and hotel casino licences with related government ministries for the special economic zone in order to encourage investors to come.
Central Province has also agreed to give a five-year exclusive right to Sam Group as their “sole representative and partner” to develop the province.
Under that exclusive right, Sam Group will be Solomon Islands’ appointed Commerce and Investment representative for China, Hong Kong and Macau.
“China Sam will set up the Solomon Islands representative office for all ministries and province to access and introduce their projects via the representative office directly to potential investors or corporations.
“If there is any foreign investment party or investors from China for any new development or investment in Central Province, the province will have to refer them to discuss and negotiate with China Sam and follow the Master Plan to develop and invest,” the agreement stated.
The agreement added once land lease arrangement is confirmed and registration done, Sam Group will send a team for site visit and project feasibility study on potential projects.
Projects identified are tourism, agriculture, petroleum, fishery and marine, mining and infrastructure.
Premier Manetiva earlier stated that his province looks forward to putting the agreement into action.
“We’ve signed similar agreements before but nothing came of it.
“I am confident however that this new agreement with plans to develop a Master Plan for the development of the entire Province will come to fruition,” he said.
China Sam Enterprise Group Co., Ltd. was established in 1985 and has its headquarters in Beijing.
Sam Group”, for short, is a Chinese high-tech enterprise.
Its major business is in Oil & Gas, Energy, Minerals, Chemical Investment, Trade, File, Security and in other fields.