Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare has met with a delegation of representatives from the Auluta Basin in Malaita Province on Thursday.
Auluta Basin has been earmarked for the proposed palm oil development.
During the meeting the seven men delegation expressed their desire for Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) Government to facilitate the implementation of this project.
The delegation was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Jimmy Saelea who also hails from that region.
The delegation spokesman, Rocky Tisa told Sogavare that the landowners of the Auluta Basin proposed project site welcomed his recent re-election as Prime Minister as the project started during the term of his former Grand Coalition for Change Government in 2007.
“We greatly appreciate your DCC Government development policy intentions for Malaita and believe that if all the development intentions for the provinces are implemented, the province would be able to employ Malaitans at home.
Mr Tisa said, they believe the current DCC Government with Hon Sogavare at the helm will attach great significance to seeing this project implemented in its entirety.
“Our visit here is to express our desire for your DCC Government to revisit the Auluta Basin Palm Oil Project. The initial stages of this project had been implemented and we would like to see it carried through to the final stage where we the landowners can enjoy the benefits of allowing our land for development.
“We want to assure your government of our overwhelming support for this project so you can be clear about the direction to take. Our fellow tribes’ people do not dispute opening up our land for development but rather want our genealogies sorted out to ensure we receive a fair share of the benefits from the development of our land and we have successfully completed this process.
“Currently we have 6,700 hectares of undisputed land available for this oil palm project and there’s more land to be recorded.”
He said, they would like to see the DCC Government bring in a genuine investor to develop the palm oil project.
PS Saelea confirmed that 6,700 hectares of land has so far been registered and the landowners have their PE (Perpetual Estate) License with them and the next stage is to conduct an environmental assessment study.
He emphasised the importance of the government putting in place basic infrastructure at the project site as a lot of investors will want to invest where basic infrastructures are in place.
In response, the Prime Minister thanked the delegation for taking the initiative to meet with him and clearly state their position on this project and assured the delegation of his DCC Government’s commitment to facilitate the implementation of this project.
“It’s enlightening to hear land ownership issues had been sorted out. I understand land issues had been the major hurdle and now that’s been sorted, my government looks forward to working with you all to facilitate the implementation of this important project.
“The next big step in this project is for the government to ensure basic infrastructures are put in place and to secure a genuine investor.
“In terms of infrastructure funding, be assured my DCC Government is serious about fulfilling this obligation. The focus this year would be the establishment of infrastructure and communication networks.”
Prime Minister Sogavare said there is a pressing need for big projects to happen in Malaita to absorb Malaitans back to their home province.