Forest chief removed, Lilo behind Reeves Moveni's removal - Solomon Star News

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Forest chief removed, Lilo behind Reeves Moveni's removal

07 November 2014

The caretaker Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo is again behind the highly controversial removal of the commissioner of Forest Reeves Moveni, the Solomon Star has established.

Mr Moveni received his marching orders in a letter dated the 21st of October 2014, advising him, he was being transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as the new deputy secretary to the PM.

No reason was given in the letter signed by the supervising permanent secretary of the Ministry Public Service Nego Sisiolo.

Mr Sisiolo claimed in the letter the decision was made in consultation with the Public Service Commission.

But the Solomon Star has established from a text message it cited from the chairman of the Public Service Commission Eliam Tangirongo that this was not true.

Mr Tangirongo denied knowing anything about the transfer in the text message sent out a week after Mr Moveni received his transfer letter.

Instead, in a text message Mr Lilo sent to the Permanent Secretary of Forestry Barnabas Anga, the caretaker PM directed that Mr Moveni take up his new posting and that an acting commissioner be appointed as soon as possible while the post is advertised.

The Solomon Star yesterday established that a new acting commissioner, Samuel Pitakaka Vazu, was appointed on Wednesday this week.

Forestry officials spoken to described Mr Vazu as an officer who as close working ties with the Malaysian logging giant Earthmovers.

Officials within the ministry also expressed shock at the sudden removal of Mr Moveni by the caretaker PM, who did the same thing earlier to the Permanent Secretary of Finance and Treasury Shadrach Fanega.

Caretaker Forestry minister Dickson Mua and his Permanent Secretary Mr Fanega were also surprised and shocked at the decision.

Secretary to the PM Jeffery Wickham has confirmed the transfer of Mr Moveni.

The Solomon Star has learned that this transfer was done through directives from Mr Lilo to Mr Wickham and the Secretary to Cabinet to facilitate and for the supervising permanent secretary of Public Service to process.

Asked if this is true, Mr Wickham said they only followed the directive although he knew it is not right.

Mr Wickham said it was the Secretary to Cabinet, James Remobatu, who initiated the transfer and his office only facilitated the directive.

Asked if he was the one who processed the transfer, Mr Remobatu said he has nothing to do with this because he only deals with matters regarding permanent secretaries.

Mr Wickham said for Mr Lilo to do that would be funny because the prime minister only has the authority to deal with permanent secretaries and not public servants.

He said public servants are dealt with by their respective permanent secretaries and the public service commission.

Caretaker Forestry minister Mr Mua and his permanent secretary Mr Anga were not aware of the transfer until they were told Mr Moveni will be transfered to the Office of the PM and Cabinet.

The Solomon Star was told the controversial decision has caused much inconvenience and costs to timber and log exporters in th past weeks.

Several attempts to talk to Mr Lilo on Thursday were unsuccessful, as he was in his constituency of Gizo/Kolombangara campaigning.

Written questions the Solomon Star sent to his spokesman were not replied.

Well-placed sources the Solomon Star had spoken to said Mr Moveni's removal may be connected with the recently established POB bank issue and Earthmovers Logging Company about the issue of Letter of Credits (LC) and logging bonds that were now held by POB Bank.

The Solomon Star is aware that in July afte Westpac bank closed all logging company accounts, the forestry minister made a gazzette for all logging bonds to be kept by the Central bank.

After POB bank opened for business, another gazzette was made to allow POB to hold bonds and accounts of logging companies.

"But we cannot rule out the Malaysian bank that the Central Bank recently turned down its applications as another factor that may be connected to this issue.

"Because it is surprising to see Mr Lilo acting in such a way when his government is only in caretaker mode.

"But this is not the first time for Lilo to bypass the process and poke his nose into other ministries without proper consultation," the source said.

Other sources said Mr Moveni was removed over two round log shipments, one belonging to Earthmovers, which was reported to have been ceased by the commissioner whilst allowing the other company's shipment to be exported despite the Attorney's Chamber's advice not to on both occasions.

The Solomon Star understands there is one Earthmovers shipment that the commissioner ceased and issued an Order of Sale a few months ago.

By Daniel Namosuaia