THE Government and Solomon Forest Association (SFA) jointly funded the controversial government trip to China.
That’s according to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
He was responding to questions raised over the trip and who funded it.
Two ministers and a government back-bencher, plus officials from the Ministry of Forestry and Finance were on the trip.
Solomon Islanders have speculated that the trip must have been funded by China.
Some even went as far as claiming the trip might pave the way to switch ties from Taiwan to Mainland China.
“There is nothing to hide in this trip and it has nothing to do with Taiwan/China diplomacy,” Sogavare said.
“In fact the trip was done in the best interest of our economy in terms of our logging policy,” he added.
Sogavare further explained that this trip is aimed at finding out a level of determined value of our round log exports.
“Every year there is a debate on it and the SFA always put forward to the government that the determined value our government has in place is very high, which does not reflect the situation in the market on the ground,” he explained.
Sogavare said as a result of this issue, the SFA requested the government to take the trip and find out for itself.
“So the cost of this trip was shared by SFA and the concern government ministries that were part of this trip,” he added.
At the same time Sogavare said he is aware that people will raise questions and reasons regarding this trip especially when China/Taiwan issues is still hot in the local and international media.
“But like I said this trip has nothing to do with our foreign policy concerning Taiwan and China.
“My government will not make any decision until we do a thorough analysis and assessments on the pros and cons of our foreign policy.
“So even if our government officials or ministers travel to China it will never change the approach DCGA will take on this matter,” Sogavare said.
Meanwhile, the government is setting up a taskforce comprising both government and opposition members to provide an in-depth foreign policy review, analysis, strategy and approach on our foreign policy issues with Taiwan and China.
By ANDREW FANASIA