By WILSON SAENI
MALAITA has halted all exports of logs from 21 logging companies currently operating in the province until they settle their dues.
The loggers and their respective Licence Holders owe the province a total of $4.6 million in taxes and other revenues.
The Licence Holders are locals whilst the logging contractors or companies are mainly Asians.
“Those parties have failed miserably to pay the much-needed revenue to the province,” provincial government insiders told the Solomon Star.
“This is for the past years to this day, which forced the province to go hard on the loggers,” they said.
Malaita Province under the leadership of Premier Daniel Suidani and Provincial Secretary Fredrick Fa’abasua are now taking a bold stand to ensure the 21 logging companies pay up their dues.
“They need to pay up their dues before any log shipment could be exported out from Malaita and the country.
“Failure to do so means no log shipment from Malaita will be exported out of the country.”
When this paper consulted Mr Fa’abasua about this issue, he confirmed that he already spoke to the Commissioner of Forestry to ban log shipments from Malaita from leaving the country until the logging companies pay up their dues.
The Malaita PS, a lawyer by profession, said it is time to set things straight for the province.
“The provincial budget passed by the provincial assembly count on revenues from logging operation in the province.
“Lack of payment by the logging companies means revenue collected by the province will not match the budget on the paper.
“Low revenue collection will see the province not implementing some of its service deliveries effectively,” Fa’abasua said.
He added that Malaita needs that amount of money to run its affairs.
Fa’abasua said some logging companies after hearing the stand the province took have initiated negotiations.
But he said he had told the loggers that Malaita Province will not negotiate.
“Fees are spelt out clearly.
“The licence holder and the logging companies should show some respect to the province and pay up their dues.
“There is nothing for us to negotiate on the table,” Fa’abasua reminded the loggers.
The action came following a seven-day notice the province issued to the loggers recently.
Fa'abasua said the province will take further action if the loggers failed to pay up.