THE Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID) has defended Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s leaked acknowledgement letter to the Bintan General Manager describing it as a personal letter and does not represent any favoritism or endorsement of any company obligations.
“Whatever the Prime Minister shared with the company like this leaked letter is his personal approach.
“That letter only acknowledges the company for work performances and not an official Democratic Coalition for Change Government endorsement for any favour from the company or to influences the company,” a spokesperson from APID office in Honiara William Tino said.
The APID spokesperson pointed out that the mining operation on Rennell Island is continuing upon the wish of resource owners.
“The bottom line of the bauxite mining on Rennell is not so much on the government or company.
“The resources owners are the ones who invited the company to mine their land by signing the mining agreement.
“If no landowners agreed to sign the agreement allowing the company to enter their land, the company would not be operating there,” Mr Tino said.
“If we say its corrupt then in what sense is it corrupt?” he added.
“But again opinions differ when it comes to sensitivity of mining issues discussed,” he further added.
Bintan is contracted by APID to mine bauxite on Rennell.
Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in response to criticisms from the public against the Prime Minister for the acknowledgement letter said it is a normal practice for a Prime Minister to issue such letter to investors within the country upon receiving positive feedback from various stakeholders including landowners.
The response was described as unconvincing and a cover-up by the Prime Minister’s Office of an act of corruption.
Former Special Secretary to the Prime Minister Andrew Muaki said if it was the intention of Mr Sogavare to acknowledge the Bintan for something positive it has done then he should have addressed the letter to Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID), which holds the mining lease on Rennell.
“It is my understanding that APID is the one that has a mining lease with the government on Rennell. APID then engaged Bintan to mine the bauxite on its behalf.
“In simple legal terms, the government has no relationship with Bintan and vice-versa.
“The government only has business relationship with APID,” Mr Muaki said.
“Hence, official communications regarding bauxite mining should be addressed to APID.
“Given the motivation for the letter was to encourage investors who have obtained mining leases with the government to be good corporate citizens, the letter to Bintan – a company that has no official and legal relationship –is unusual. A better option, although controversial still, would be to write to APID,” Mr Muaki said.
By TEDDY KAFO