Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Industries Solomon Islands (ICCTISI) Charles Dausabea says Cabinet owes an explanation to the nation why it has directed the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to issue only four bêche-de-mer export licenses this year.
Dausabea said cabinet must keep out from interfering in the work of the relevant technical officers within the ministry.
“Cabinet has a lot of national issues to concentrate on and they should not interfere in the work of the ministry since there are technical people there to do their work,” he added.
Dausabea said the Cabinet directive is a repetition of broad daylight corruption that is allowed to happen every year, depriving indigenous Solomon Islanders from maximally benefiting from their resources.
“These indigenous people from the nine provinces must be given the opportunity to harvest their marine resources and export them themselves.
“It is enough for us to exploit our own people who continue to suffer out there because we just go out there to take all the resources from them for the benefit of foreigners or naturalised citizens of this country.”
He said ICCTISI, which has members in all nine provinces of the country, was one of the applicants but it was so disappointed to learn that only four licenses will be issued this year following a cabinet directive.
“The decision to issue only four bêche-de-mer export licenses looks fishy and what is so disturbing about it is the fact that the Cabinet has interfered in decision-making by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources,” Mr Dausabea added.
The ICCTISI CEO said the number of licenses to export bêche-de-mer must be increased to 20 and locals must be encouraged to participate in the bêche-de-mer export business.
He added that foreigners and naturalised citizens should not be allowed into bêche-de-mer export business because their presence here in Solomon Islands is solely to make money and not to develop the country.
“Why not give the license to people of Ontong Java, Choiseul, Marovo, Renbell and other islands since they are the ones who own the reefs and the coastal waters where the bêche-de-mer breed,” he questioned.
He said increasing the number of beche-de-mer export licenses will allow competition in bêche-de-mer purchase prices domestically and enable locals to obtain maximum returns from their bêche-de-mer sales.
By AATAI JOHN