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Friday, December 29, 2006

Tausinga's other side revealed by SI acting Attorney General

The Solomon Islands acting Attorney General, Mrs Nuatali Tongarutu, has revealed that the Member of Parliament for North New Georgia, Job Dudley Tausinga, who had attempted to block the shipment of round logs by Glengrow and IFI a week ago was based on reasons of personal interest rather than to enforce the law.

Mrs Tongarutu’s revelation followed Mr Tausinga’s claim that he had resigned from his appointment as the Minister for Forestry, Environment and Conservation after he was forced to clear an illegal shipment of round logs by the Glengrow and IFI logging companies. Mr Tausinga claimed that he refused to clear the shipment because the logs were felled without a license and also the companies did not have export licenses.

But reacting to the claims, Mrs Tongarutu said: "The truth was that the MP attempted to hold up the shipment of logs because of personal financial interests and dislike for Glengrow and IFI. Tausinga had been an irresponsible Minister because he turned a blind eye on his ‘pet’ company, Golden Springs, which also does not have a valid felling and export licenses, and instead targeted Glengrow and IFI who despite being without felling and export licenses has a legitimate marketing agreement endorsed by the former North New Georgia Timber Corporation.

“Mr Tausinga stepped outside of his line of duties when he approached Golden Springs Company lawyer to file an application to hold up the log proceeds.”

She further added that Mr Tausinga failed to address the core of the issue by using his executive power to prevent export of the logs after the ship was loaded and ready to sail.

“This matter should be taken up through the courts by placing an injunction on the proceeds of the sale then legally determining seeking legal action against log shipments which had already been loaded for export,attempt to prevent the logs from being exported but to hold up the proceeds.

“He’s just interested in the money. I want the truth to prevail and the public to know he’s a money monger,” Mrs. Tongarutu said.

She said it was true that the two logging companies did not have the felling and export licenses but they had a legitimate marketing arrangement endorsed by the former North New Georgia Timber Corporation. The corporation has the power to enter into agreement with any company that it wishes to fell trees on its land. Felling without the agreement or without the issuance of a license is unlawful but in this case they have an agreement. They have their own agreement and Mr Tausinga will never agree of it because Golden Springs is his preferred Company.”

Mrs Tongarutu said she advised for the shipment of the logs in the interest of the state purse and landowners and the shipment was cleared by Golden Springs which now had renewed felling and export licenses.

She continued: “After felling, logs become perishable items and therefore the shipment must be permitted to leave while the proceeds from the sale can be frozen in an account until the courts determine any injunction placed by Golden Springs. Log ships that are held up on such a basis cost the government up to $7,000 USD per day and having to pay such costs is totally unnecessary because it achieves no purpose except to further perpetuate the problem rather than solving it.”

“Mr Tausinga has a conflict of interest and for that reason he blatantly disregarded the North New Georgia Timber Corporation Act which he should use as a guide to make such decisions.”

She revealed that Mr Tausinga in his capacity as the Minister for Forestry had written to the Commissioner of Forests last month authorising the commissioner to endorse a market certificate to export logs felled by Golden Springs when its license was yet to be renewed.

“He is saying Glengrow and IFI felled logs and exported them without a license. Though Golden Springs felled logs and were going to export them without license yet he blessed it. That is a clear conflict of interest because he obviously has a vested interest in Golden Springs, who appear to have a close connection with him.”

Mrs Nuatali said Mr Tausinga did not respect the NNGTC Act by appointing the people of his choice to the NNGTC board so he could be in control due to his personal interests over the entire logging of North New Georgia’s timber concession area.

Source: PF Net

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