A LOCAL Chief from Choiseul Ellison Pitakaka has applauded his colleague, Chief Collish Leketo Tutua for the bold stand to raise an important issue towards the current review of the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization (FRTU) Act, particularly benefit sharing.
Chief Ellison Pitakaka is from Luku Village, Katupika Ward in South Choiseul.
He also urges the Ministry of Forestry and Research to ensure the local indigenous people of this country are not left behind, not knowing what is going on.
Chief Pitakaka said the recent call by Chief Leketo was welcomed as an eye opener to them as resource owners.
“For years we have been left in the dark, we know nothing about all these until Mr Leketo came up with the figures and percentages.
“We have been blinded with all sorts of technics including advancing of cash money from the companies without realising the implications behind and crock attitude this big logging companies did to us.
“Such practise has been ongoing ever since without us noticing it. They are playing with our livelihoods and what we expect to get maximum benefit out from our resources,” he said.
Chief Pitakaka said that the 60 and 40 percent as the basis of sharing the benefits as shared by Chief Leketo is unfair.
“To make it worst, the 40 percent is shared amongst the government, landowning tribes and the licensee only gets 5 percent out from the 15 percent royalty meant for landowners if it’s an indigenous whilst if it’s a foreigner; he or she gets that full 60 percent.”
The Chief added it is high time that this be made correct with a fair distribution of the benefits from our forest resources, so as resource owners, licensees and contractors get fair return.
“I urge the Ministry of Forestry and Research to not forget us, the indigenous people and resource owners.
“We all want equal share so I want us to work together in bringing this to a level where we will all be happy,” said Chief Pitakaka.
He adds urging all of those who are educated or know-well such important issues in the country in whatever works of life to please relay to them.
“It is important that we from the rural areas and custodians of the resources be made known too of what is happening.”
Meanwhile the Ministry of Forestry and Research welcomes these constructive ideas and considering all possible avenues to ensure there will be fair distribution of benefits as noted.
“We acknowledge and welcome the contributing ideas; as the review of the Forest Resources and Timber Utilisation Act is still ongoing.
“These views will be considered and included as basis of your input in the current under review Act.”