THE Ministry of Forestry and Research (MoFR) has come out to clarify comments made on the Solomon Business Magazine online’s Facebook page as inaccurate and does not reflect the Ministry’s actual work plans.
Comments made alleged Minister Samuel Manetoali’s recent visit to Eagon Pacific Plantation Limited’s (EPPL) as politically driven; describing it as an eleventh hour approach prior to the election.
In an issued statement, the Forestry office clarifies that the minister’s visit to Eagon was on invitation by the company to see first-hand the veneer processing plant and the employment opportunities provided for by the company.
That is to get the Minister prove the Ministry’s assistance on facilitating tax exemption when importing the machines into the country.
This is in line with the Ministry’s ongoing project work plans on sustainable forest resource management; Eagon being a reforestation and plantation company is included.
It adds as for the issue on making sure all logging companies must comply to the downstream processing, it is spelt out as one of the priority policies of the Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG).
It explains that the current downstream processing policy enforced is for all logging companies to process eight percent of their round log products.
On Eagon’s case it is a plantation forestry project and therefore downstream processing is up to the shareholders decision, which they are currently operating a two line veneer production for export.
Unlike for logging companies, the eight percent quota is a must to comply, explains the statement.
However, if companies cannot comply to; they must sale that eight percent to any registered milling licensed holder, individual or company locally.
If not, they may sale that to those companies producing veneer in country; or else be facing severe penalties to be imposed even to the extent of license be suspended or cancelled, it adds.
“This is being closely monitored by the Utilization Division within the Ministry thus compliance by companies is a must.”
The Forestry office reiterate dismissing such speculative comments are like putting the chart before the horse in predetermining intentions of the visit.
“The Ministry of Forestry and Research neither the Minister with any intention on this visit to the Eagon Pacific Plantation Limited’s (EPPL) tend to use it a political move.”
– MoFR Press