FORUM Solomon Islands International (FSII) said it is not anti-investment but pro-investment and fully supports and encourage investments for the development of the country.
FSII said part of its pro-active action is to advocate about right development and warn resource owners about the advantages and disadvantages of development.
“Our resource owners must be vigilant and must know who they are dealing with and the agreements they going to sign,” says Benjamin Afuga, CEO of Forum Solomon Islands International.
He issued the statement after a potential investor in East Fataleka, Malaita Province is being scrutinised in the popular Facebook page over the past two weeks.
The heated debate resulted in a veteran journalist, former MP and former General Manager of Evita Solomon Limited, Alfred Sasako claiming that FSII has blocked development on Malaita and is chasing away a potential investor.
But Mr Afuga denied Mr Sasako’s suggestions and said his group’s critiquing is based on FSII’s objectives include:
(a) To create pressure on responsible authorities by means of campaigns, protests, boycotts, making position statements and wide demonstration putting authorities accountable for their actions.
(b) To consult and dialogue with relevant bodies on development challenges, representing people’s concerns brokering resolutions based on national interests of the people of SI.
(c) To educate people on their civic rights, hence develop responsibility and sense of ownership and collectively rise putting responsible authorities to be accountable for their actions and deeds.
(d) To create a credible and informative forum which based on well research, analytical and factual data’s substantiating FSII as a unique and reputable movement in SI.
(e) To be a responsible movement, being the mouth piece and ‘watchmen on the wall’ for the mass civil society.
(f) To be a proactive stakeholder in policy formulation within the government machineries representing the views of the silent majority.
“Solomon Islanders are known for their culture of silence. They rarely speak up even though things seemed undeserving.
“Good or bad, big or small we just take it. But this must stop and the younger generation is beginning to break this culture of silence”.
Asked if there were any lessons to learn from past failed developments and investors: Mr Afuga answered:
“We don’t need to look far. All have been recorded and documented.
“There have been a good number of notable failed investments in this country that are engraved in a chapter in this country’s history book.
“And this pattern must not be allowed to repeat itself,” Mr Afuga added.
He pointed out that in many instances these things happened because wrong people are part of the preliminary stages.
In most cases, they are individuals who are not attached to the land or resources but are paid to do the job.
“These individuals usually functioned as business advisors or consultants rush in their dire efforts to getting two-faced landowners signed to seal deals, then they walked away with their consultancy payments happy men and women, whilst the resource owners squabble and divided.
“Therefore we provide an avenue to educate the younger generation and resource owners to do the right thing because relevant authorities are so complacent and continue to provide a haven for dubious investors to thrive and took off,” Mr Afuga said.
“FSII is not against development. We encourage a win-win situation in all forms of development, big or small.
“So don’t get us wrong. We are pro-investment and all for developments and investments but we encourage genuine investors only thus cannot allow fly-by investors to exploit our massive untapped resources,” he added.
He also reiterated the call made by his president, Redley Raramo.
Mr Raramo earlier said while it cannot be denied that the country needs more tangible development to prop up its economy, resource owners must not be misled into signing agreements without knowing their contents in their entirety.
“The returns are only one major part of the agreement, there are other clauses that resource owners need to pay attention to,” Mr Raramo stated.
The FSII boss said that resource owners need to understand what their benefits are in the long run and how viable these opportunities are in terms of sustaining future generations.