Dear Editor – Your newspaper carried a very interesting article on the APID saga with a screamer headline, which unfortunately (in my humble view) reduces your reputable paper to one of public ridicule.
Royalty payment, whether in logging or mining, is a statutory requirement. Every developer is required by law to pay royalty to landowners.
There are no exceptions, including the Asia Pacific Investment Development Ltd (APID), a logging company masquerading as a mining firm.
In my view paying royalty is no news at all.
It’s like, “dog bites man” is no news at all. However, if “man bites dog”, that becomes news because it is unusual, it does not happen too often and so on.
As someone who has investigated the circumstances surrounding the handling of the APID mining application by the Mines and Minerals Board, I can categorically say there’s something wrong, very wrong about the process.
For in my investigation, I have established that:
- The issue is not about royalty payment;
- The Mines and Minerals Board should never have accepted APID’s application in the first place for obvious reason. APID is not a mining company. It is a logging company, according to Company Haus records;
- The Board has never granted APID a Mining Lease.
- The alleged Mining Lease granted on 7th September last year – a Sunday – to APID is illegal, according to the advice by the Attorney General’s Chambers. It was backdated to 05th September, the day the Board met, to legitimise the Lease’s authenticity. I am not sure that retrospectivity in law is allowed under the Mines and Minerals Act 1990; and
- There never were two Prospecting Licences granted APID for tenements A & B. APID has only one Prospecting Licence, that is PL 04/08 issued and dated 4th February 2013. There is no record of grant of PL 05/08 as alleged by the Board. As a matter of fact, Tenement B was issued to PT Mega Bintang Borneo Ltd under Prospecting Licence (PL03/14) dated 12th June 2014.
It is my conclusion therefore that the issue is not about royalty payment.
Rather, the issue is about senior government officials, vested with the powers to protect national interest, seems to be openly colluding with foreigners to not only circumvent the law, but to breach the law.
This whole issue requires the immediate establishment of a royal commission of inquiry so that senior government officials, including former ones, are made to account for their actions.
This country is sick and tired of people whose education was paid for by the public purse only to return and act in questionable activities in the name of Solomon Islanders.
It’s what the Hon Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has been talking about – corruption from the top echelon of the public sector.
It’s a cancer in our society. Unless it is excised this cancer of corruption will swallow us whole.