A SENIOR citizen from the Central Islands Province has lauded the Attorney General’s Office for detecting the illegality of the Strategic Cooperation Agreement signed between the Central Islands Province Premier Stanley Manetiva and China Sam Enterprise Group and acting promptly to cancel it.
The China Sam Enterprise Group is a state-owned conglomerate and has not registered as a Foreign Investor in Solomon Islands.
The signing of the illegal agreement came only a week after the Cabinet voted to witch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.
Cecil Ono said the Attorney General’s Office must be applauded for doing the right thing to protect the former national capital and the Central Islands Province in general from an agreement that was bound to create chaos and anger.
However, he said despite the cancellation of the agreement, precautionary measures must be taken by the Attorney General’s Office to ensure the signatories to the agreement and their cronies do not go behind and buy their way into proceeding with the proposed developments entailed therein.
Ono said the agreement was drafted without any prior consultation with relevant government ministries, companies and individuals and public awareness and since signing the agreement with the Chinese company, Premier Manetiva has yet to return to Tulagi from Honiara.
He said Tulagi is predominantly crown land leased to different companies- Solomon Islands National Provident Fund, Sasape Marina, Silent World, National Fisheries Department – and various individuals and Premier Manetiva’s action in signing a land-lease agreement over land the Central Islands Provincial Government has no ownership over with a Chinese company brings into question his integrity and that of the company.
“Because Tulagi is a crown land which means it is exclusive and extends over 7 kilometres into customary land.
“As such, the 75-year lease agreement was contrary to the status of ownership over the land which is both crown and customary in nature,” Ono added.
He said while Central Islands Province needs development like all other provinces in the country, Premier Manetiva must ensure proper consultation and awareness are carried out before committing the province into any agreement pertaining to land and development.