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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Independent MPs support policy shift: Enele Kwanairara

The Office for the Independent Members of Parliament says it will support any policy redirection to focus on a multitude of rural based industries to stimulate economic development for the marginalised people of this country.

Its leader Daniel Enele Kwanairara revealed this yesterday when commenting on the current social and economic issues facing Solomon Islands as a Small Island Nation highlighted in the Central Bank of Solomon Islands’ 2005 Annual Report.

“As major economic player and planner, the National Government needs to seriously and make policy shifts to take advantage of this wealth of information while we still enjoy relative peace,” he said.

Referring to the country’s continuous reliance on log export revenue, Mr Kwanairara said whilst it is good news in the short-run, new policy directions must be taken immediately by government to address the long-term ‘dark-side’ of the industry.
“We are over-dependent on the exploitation of our forest resources.“The current levels seem to be increasing and at highly unsustainable levels. Given the need to be more vigilant on the environmental impact and the need for broadening the economic base, new policy shifts or direction seems imminent and overdue,” he said.According to the CBSI report, the country continues to rely heavily on income raised through the unsustainable exploitation of our forest.

In 2005, the CBSI report stated that log production overran volumes in 2004 (by 7.1 per cent) to a record of 1.1 million cubic meters and generated SBD$510 million.With regards to the longer-term dark-side of the industry, Mr Kwanairara questioned how long can Solomon Islands continue to harvest its forest resources without over-burdening or hurting the fragile ecosystems, which provides for food, firewood, canoes, houses, medicine, water and many m of the good things that is required for the sustaining of human life in these hapi isles?

“If we fail to aggressively pursue a meaningful reforestation programme now, what alternatives do we have? What are the government’s post-logging plans and policies for alternative industries for the rural population?” he asked.Mr Kwanairara said the Independent Members of Parliament look forward for enlightenment from the Government’s policy framework, especially for policy shifts or redirection that would bring about long-term tangible economic development to the marginalised resource owners.

“For far now the forest owners have given away their resources for a dollars and the logging companies with their ‘middle-dealers’ have earned millions.“Both the provincial and national governments know about this problem of unsustainable harvesting and the little economic return to forest owners but little or nothing at all has been done to rectify this very serious situation,” he said.

Mr Kwanairara said the independent group wants the root issues addressed immediately by and through strategic policy shifts that will see more benefits to the people.“The ‘Focus on Rural Areas” mind-set by the Sogavare-led Administration must be congratulated for this paradigm shift.

However, the Independent group warns that such new initiative should not simply remain in glossily bound reports or booklets “but it must be seen to be carried out for the benefit of all citizens”.“The root evil emanates from the governments weakness (or lack of political will) take a strong policy stand against mindless logging in such small islands such as Solomon Islands.”Mr Kwanairara said the logging companies are here to make quick money - this is what they are good at, and they are staying because we allowed them to carry on business as usual.At the tail end of the ‘dark-side’, he said, the industry has been plagued with practices that directly undermine maximisation of national revenue, especially income for the resource owners.

The MP for North Malaita said the CBSI report continues to reveal what is vital to the choices that need to be taken.

source: http://www.solomonstarnews.com/

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