A recent post on Solomon Forestry Association (SFA) has attracted a huge debate from the public.
SFA as it is known controls almost everything about the whole logging industry in Solomon Islands for years. It is chaired by a foreigner (logger) and pretty much controls the pricing (determined price) which is very low compared to the world market price for logs.
SFA from experience has so much political influence on the current government and past governments.
One of the key issues raised is the transfer pricing which sets a determined price lower against the world market price.
Many are concerned about the economic loss especially to the government and resource owners. The fact that SFA controls the price is indeed weird and cannot be understood given the fact resource owners are treated poorly and basically price takers.
Sadly, the right of the resource owners is sold cheaply by the government in terms economic benefits due to them. It is estimated that the annual economic loss is around SBD$3 billion.
Based on pricing information the SFA determined price ranged between USD$90 to USD$130 per cubic. The market price ranged between USD240 to USD315 per cubic. The disparity in terms of the price is indeed quite astounding.
SFA right now has its tentacles gripping and squeezing out life from any person with the intention to confront them in terms of control over the logging industry. To undo the grip is certainly mammoth task for the government in order to bring justice to the resource owners of this country.
Truly strong political will is indeed required to decide on the fate of SFA and the political future of Solomon Islands.
It is heartening to note from the public debate that the government continue to strongly advocate for and accord maximum protection of the interests of SFA. It is noted that this matter at one point was a subject of heated debate and discussion amongst the members of the cabinet.
Could SFA be the source of political instability and influence in the country? Apparently, everyone knows that and in the recent past such influence was evident when the government was in its formation.
Public sentiments about the influence of loggers turned into violence and riots.
Somewhere out there the architecture is sitting and directing the political direction of this country in terms what to do and what not.
By Hon. Tahisihaka Andrew Dormans
GP Minister for Finance & Treasury
MPA for Birao Ward