SOLOMON ISLANDS PALM OIL PLANTATION THREATENS TO CLOSE DOWN

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (July 22, 1999 – Radio Australia)---A Solomon Islands palm oil producer, Solomon Islands Plantations, Ltd., has threatened to permanently close down its operations if it isn’t permitted to resume operations as soon as possible.

Radio Australia correspondent George Atkin reports from the capital, Honiara.

"The joint venture palm oil producer was forced to close its operations in early June when members of the Guadalcanal Liberation Army stormed the plantation at the height of the ethnic unrest on Guadalcanal.

"The company's General Manager, Dr. Mike Workmen, says if the National Government, the Guadalcanal Provincial authorities and militants cannot reach an agreement to permit the company reopen its operations, then it could close its doors in two weeks.

"The closure could harm the national economy as Solomon Islands Plantations, Ltd. contributes 20 percent of the Government's annual budget. "Representatives of the Guadalcanal Provincial Government, the militants and the company have been discussing the reopening of the plantation, but as yet no information about the status of the negotiations has been announced.

"George Atkin for Radio Australia in the Solomon Islands."

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