The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) and Malaita Provincial Government (MPG) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the provincial capital Auki, paving the way for the proposed Bina Harbour Processing Plant project to be implemented.
Fisheries Minister Nestor Giro signed on behalf of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources while Premier Daniel Suidani for Malaita Provincial Government, a statement from MFMR said.
Speaking prior to this important signing, Mr Giro said the MOU highlights an important milestone for the project and in particular the partnership with Malaita Provincial Government.
In addition, he said the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) recognizes the crucial role that Malaita Province will have in terms of implementing the project for the province and Solomon Islands.
Minister Giro said the MOU is a joint partnership thus the need for stakeholders to work together in order to achieve the objective of the project which is a second tuna processing plant at Bina, is important.
He stressed that the processing plant will be the economic pull factor that will drive the other developments for the province.
“This MOU is the guide to our roles in implementing this project. Malaita will be the project host and this means that it will not be without challenges.
“This MOU is the basis for our partnership for us to work together to achieve results, to look at problem solving ideas to the challenges and also to allocate resources to the project both from the national government and the provincial government,” the Fisheries Minister said.
He acknowledged the people of Malaita especially those who are near the project site including the community leaders, men, women and children who will be part of this project saying it (project) will be massive in terms of direct and indirect benefits therefore it is important for communities to have proper and correct information about the project.
“MFMR recognises the importance of our communities, as of last year we have been committed to this area through funding a number of awareness programs for the project in the communities as well.
“This year we are still committed to this programs and also years to come,” Minister Giro remarked.
He reiterated that this is despite the COVID 19 affecting access resources for this projects, government is still committed to implement the project.
“Our timeline of 2023 might be extended but our commitment is the same which is for a tuna processing plant in Malaita. The signing of this MOU is a start of our journey together both the provincial government and the national government represented by MFMR.
“As earlier highlighted on the progress of this project, there is more work for us to do. Sometimes the journey might be difficult but we must not forget the objective of this project,” the Minister said.
He commended Malaita Province leadership and officials for the partnership adding that he looks forward to working together with them for the betterment of the lives of our people.
Malaita Premier Daniel Suidani shared the minister’s sentiment when he responded saying the Mara Government gives high regard to project.
He said his government fully supports the project and the MOU is the beginning of this partnership that will see Bina Tuna Processing Plant built on Malaita.
“Malaita Provincial Government has the most to offer as partner in leading the Bina Tuna project. It is a marker of this coordination and will allow us to proceed side by side in cooperation,” the premier remarked.
Premier Suidani stressed that his government is fully aware that donors are concerned about the bigger picture of the layout of the region and his government is committed to take on the responsibility of planning the layout of the region to attract adequate donor support for the supporting infrastructure.
“I’m confident that with the good support of standing of the MARA government we should be able to attract donor support,” he said.
The premier pointed out that there were a number of international organisations that have visited his government on Bina development in the last couple of months including the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank.
He said the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank is one of them and Malaita Provincial Government understands that the IFC report is with the Ministry of Fisheries.
“The IFC report will be very important to understand the volume of fish, what amount of water, what price of electricity, and what level of labour is assumed to be feasible,” Mr Suidani said.
The Malaita Premier said his government needs to understand how it can help to lay the foundation for the project to start soon.
“Malaita Provincial Government knows that water supply, electricity price, labour size are all important for the project and for the development of the greater Bina region,” he said.
The premier suggests that Malaita Province to have full representation in the coordinating task force for the Bina project because they want to take the lead role in the development of the project.
“We believe that the new approach we are witnessing today (Friday) sets the bench mark for the working together of the National Government ministries and the province,” he said.
Furthermore, Premier Suidani calls on the people of Malaita in particular Bina for cooperation as the project etched closer to its realisation.
The signing of the MOU was witnessed by officials from the Ministry of Fisheries, the Malaita Provincial Government Executive and representatives from the landowning group from Bina.