FORUM Solomon Islands International (FSII) has renewed calls on resource owners not to rush into signing agreements without knowing and understanding their contents.
FSII President Redley Raramo echoed this warning early this year.
Mr Raramo said while it cannot be denied that the country needs more tangible development to prop up its economy, resource owners must not be misled into signing agreements without knowing their contents in their entirety.
“The returns are only one major part of the agreement, there are other clauses that resource owners need to pay attention to,” Mr Raramo stated.
The FSII boss said that resource owners need to understand what their benefits are in the long run and how viable these opportunities are in terms of sustaining future generations.
Mr Raramo stated that access to information is a big problem and the responsibility to educate our resource owners rest squarely on ourselves.
“The duty to educate our resource owners rest upon us the educated, the civil society, and the government itself,” Mr Raramo said.
“While government acts as a middle-man between resource owners and investors, it must always protect the interests of its subjects, in this case, the owners of the resources,” he explained.
Mr Raramo reiterated that not every investor is genuine to assist resource owners; there are some who want to rip off our resources at the expense of the resources’ custodians who are not given the right information.
He renewed his call following revelations that Evita Solomon Ltd, a company that claims to be a consortium, has been engaging in buying gold from locals in Honiara.
FSII further exposed that Evita has the full support of PM Lilo and NCRA Government.
Documents obtained by FSII revealed that the Minister of Environment, Conversation and Meteorology has written to John Davies, Chairman of Evita Solomon Ltd regarding their operations in East Fataleka that there is no need for an EIA because Evita will only be engage in removing illegally felled logs, done by someone three or four years ago.
“This has raised more questions than answers,” Mr Raramo said.
The FSII boss said these kinds of investors normally appeared to help resource owners in the first place but their true colours are often shown later when they induce resource custodians to sign often one- sided agreements.
Mr Raramo urged resource owners to be vigilant when dealing with investors whom they are not well versed with.
“Some of them are dubious. They are indeed wolves but came dressed in a sheep’s skin.”