A Special Taskforce has been established to investigate the beche-de-mer industry in light of allegations that the issuance of licenses for the exportation marine products (beche-de-mer) were in breach of relevant laws.
The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has announced this Thursday.
“It was alleged that issuance of Export License on Marine Products (Beche-de-mer) were made to license-holders contrary to the requirements of the Fisheries Act 1998 and associated Regulations.
“To this end, the Democratic Coalition for Change Government sees it necessary to establish a Special Taskforce to enquire into beche-de-mer farming and trading to establish the truth about the alleged irregularities,” a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said.
The Special Taskforce comprises of Gabriel Titili- Policy Secretary Productive Sector in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as Chairman, Dr Melchior Mataki- Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology as Vice Chairman, Derek Futaiasi- Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as Secretary andJohn Muria- Senior Crown Counsel, Attorney General Chambers, Nathan Kama- Comptroller Customs, Ministry of Finance and Treasury, MckinnieDentana- Under-Secretary Economics, Ministry of Finance and Treasury andDr Reuben John Sulu- a Marine Scientist from World Fish Centre, as Members.
The responsibilities of the Special Taskforce shall be to:
- Ascertain the legal process for granting beche-de-mer licenses to applicants.
- Investigate the roles, functions and responsibilities of all stakeholders who are involved on the beche-de-mer farming and trading.
- Investigate the involvement of all stakeholders on the conduct of irregularities of beche-de-mer farming and trading.
- Investigate the issuance of Export License on Marine Products (beche-de-mer and clam shells) to license holders.
- Investigate the marketing and exporting of beche-de-mer from local licensed exporters to overseas registered buyers, including middle-man arrangements.
- Investigate the occurrence of transfer-pricing on marketing and exporting of beche-de-mer from local licensed exporters to overseas registered buyers, including middle-man arrangements.
- Identify areas of weaknesses that would discourage the effective and non-corrupt implementation of Solomon Islands National Sea Cucumber Fishery Management and Development Plan in the country.
- Identify areas of strengthens that would encourage the effective and non-corrupt implementation of Solomon Islands National Sea Cucumber Fishery Management and Development Plan in the country.
- Perform any other investigations relating to the granting of fisheries export licenses to stakeholders and related issues.
Meanwhile, the Beche-de-mer Taskforce is inviting individuals and organisations who wishto provide information pertaining to those involved in beche-de-mer harvesting, processing, buying, transporting, grading and weighing, and exportation of beche-de-mer to come forward for a voluntary hearing to be held at the Prime Ministers Officer Conference room starting on Monday until Friday next week starting at 10am to 12noon in the morning and from 2pm to 4pm in the afternoon each day.