PM Sogavare and his Democratic Coalition for Change Government are being accused of lying about a Fishery Project by the Lord Howe Fishery Taskforce
THE Chairman of the Lord Howe Fishery Taskforce, Lawrence Makili has accused Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and his Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) of lying to people of Malaita Outer Islands (MOI) about their fishery project.
Mr Makili alleged that the Sogavare-led DCGA has deviated from the original plan for a Fishery Project for the Malaita Outer Islands to a Fish-drying Project dubbing the latter as an appropriate livelihood alternative for the people of Malaita Outer Islands.
Mr Makili told local journalists this week that the Sogavare-led DCGA prioritises the Shortland islands over the Malaita Outer islands and this was evident in its implementation of a fishery project for the Shortlands and the reassignment of only a Fish-drying project for his people.
“DCGA has already built a fishery project in the Shortlands but nothing has been done to implement the Fishery Project for Malaita Outer Islands. It is now talking a fish-drying project for my people.
“The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the DCGA Government have deviated from the original Fishery Project for Malaita Outer Islands to a fish-drying project and this is ridiculous. The government has budgeted for the Fishery Project for Malaita Outer Islands and now it is only talking about implementing fish-drying project for my people.
“Prime Minister Sogavare and his DCGA regime have lied to us,” Mr Makili retorted.
“The MOI Fishery Taskforce of which I am the Chairman, came up the Fishery Project and we put it to the government for funding and the government secured funding for it under the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP).
“Up until now, we have not received the funds and now the DCGA and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) are talking about a Fish-drying project. Have they diverted the funds from the ESP for the Malaita Outer Islands Fishery Project elsewhere? We need an explanation,” Mr Makili added.
MFMR spoke about the proposed Fish-drying Project for the Malaita Outer Islands as an alternative livelihood project for the community during beche-de-mer harvest closures. The ministry issued a notice on Wednesday announcing the reimposition of the ban on the harvesting of beche-de-mer.
Mr Makili said instead of giving his people a Fishery Project as they desired, the government opted to give them a Fish-drying project now instead.
The people of Malaita Outer Islands totally rely on the ocean for their livelihood and beche-de-mer has been their biggest source of income.
Mr Makili said as the Chairman of the MOI Fishery Taskforce, he had been informed by the government of the approval of the Malaita Outer Islands Fishery Project for funding and the funding allocation for the project under the ESP.
He said a fish-drying project is not bad but rather inappropriate in the case of the Malaita Outer Islands because his people would need firewood for the fish-drying process.
“As everyone knows, the Malaita Outer Islands comprise only atolls. We don’t have many trees to obtain firewood and if we don’t have an alternative technology to dry fish, then all the trees and coconut palms would be gone in a short span of time.”
Mr Makili said the people of Malaita Outer Islands have suffered too long from non-recognition by the national government and he questioned whether this is due to them being a minority group in the country.
By LACHLAN EDDIE