WATCHDOG organisation Transparency Solomon Islands says that the appointment of Bodo Dettke to head the Ministry of Forestry and Research creates a conflict of interest for him and this shows that we need an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
Over the past week much has been said about this issue in the media.
Recently, the Office of the Leadership Code Commission (LCC) has called on Mr Dettke to relinquish his portfolio to protect his integrity.
Despite these calls, the government and Mr Dettke’s lawyer have come out clear to defend the decision undertaken.
In a print media Mr Dettke’s lawyer , Gabriel Suri, defended the appointment and accused the LCC of acting outside of its statutory role when the office called on Mr Dettke to relinquish his portfolio .
He further justified Mr Dettke has lots of experience in the logging industry and knows the ins and outs of it and proposed that Mr Dettke relinquish his Directorships of his companies.
“TSI acknowledge the fact that Mr Dettke has vast experience in the forestry sector but the main issue of concern here is the issue of conflict of interest not experiences, this is not a question of Mr Dettke’s experience but that he will have to make decisions that should be in the interest of the country but may have conflict with his own interests as an owner of a logging company,” TSI Executive Officer Daniel Fenua said.
Mr Fenua said that in this small economy and society even relinquishing directorships does not avoid the Minister from being able to make decisions that could benefit him personally.
Mr Dettke had direct interest in four logging companies namely Asia Pacific Lumber Company, Solomon Resources Management Ltd, Bahomea Logging Company Ltd and Success Company Ltd.
“Also we may give justification on the legal point of view, but we must not forget the moral aspect of the issue”, Mr Fenua added
“Morally the appointment made is a classic example of conflict of interest.”
TSI said it supported the LCC’s call for Mr Detkke to resign from this portfolio.
This situation demonstrates that the LCC is constrained in its role of confronting corruption.
“This situation is a clear example of why the country needs an Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) to support the work of the other integrity institutions, LCC, Office of the Ombudsman, Auditor General and DPP.
“Clearly, the appointment of Mr Detkke to head the Forestry sector does not speak well on the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) whose leader is very vocal in advocating for unfair dealings at the government level,” Mr Fenua stated.