MORE than a million in royalty has been paid out by the Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID), sources have revealed.
And the money is now sitting in a suspense account within the Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI).
This payment is for all the trust hold groups on West Rennell acquired land where the bauxite mining has taken place.
Sources have also confirmed payment of four shipments by the mining company for royalties to the landowners still being withheld at CBSI.
Sources explained, this is to clarify amidst controversy about the company not paying up royalties to angry so called landowners who waited impatiently.
“I could not understand why this is so long, I have heard of Gold Ridge landowners’ issue on royalty payments and now I can feel that same feeling,” said one West Rennell landowner.
“We want explanations from APID, the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Finance; or will this be another same issue to Gold Ridge, wait and then promises repeating many times,” said another West Rennell landowner.
According to shipment records APID has four shipments shipped out this year and payments have been expected.
Sources explained procedures of royalty payments go through the government such as that of a mining development.
“Whilst payment of such royalty can be made through CBSI, it is the responsible Ministry of Mines to instruct the Ministry of Finance who then requests opening of an account at CBSI for royalties to be kept.”
Note, it must be understood that CBSI can only open and hold onto any government account on genuine purposes as such as royalty payment for that matter, said the source.
“Stopping or holding on to any payment may only be subject to dispute which only high court can issue a stop notice to CBSI to do that.
“This is not with the case of APID shipments for royalty payments. No court orders neither any request of halt of payments,” sources revealed.
Sources said, due to no formal request from the Ministry’s responsible, there is no account created for that money thus it is kept in a suspense account.
“It’s kept in a suspense account,” confirmed the sources, adding there is no outstanding issue of dispute or high court order that kept the payments not being released but it’s a miscommunication with the relevant Ministries concern to open an account on behalf of the landowners.
Not until an account is opened, that money belonging to the people of West Rennell and will remain in that suspense account.
The sources said, now it is with the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Finance; whether to proceed in the best interest of giving what really belongs to the people of West Rennell.
“Or dragging it for few more ages just like that of Gold Ridge and continuing on with more to come; best it’s time to learn.”
Landowners of West Rennell want their money, their royalty be paid so give them rightly what belongs to them.
One landowner urges the Premier of Rennell and Bellona, Collin Tetsu’atai as representative of the people to push for the benefits belonging to the people.
“We want the Premier to pursue this, it’s the Ministries that failed and we will be grateful Premier Tetsu’stai on our behalf consults them.”
By BRADFORD THEONOMI