Solomon Star

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Mar. 17) – Allegations of bribery by loggers and supporters of Forestry Bill 2004 in the Solomon Islands speaks clearly of the intense lobbying for and against the bill.

This is a very serious concern for both loggers and those who support the bill.

International politics should also stay away from our domestic issues.

Those who support and campaigned against the bill must understand that it is illegal for them to use money to buy votes. We must let the parliament decide independently.

What the Solomons lawmakers need are views from both sides of the house. Last year, the loggers and landowners were never given the chance to say their side of story.

The current landowners forum is a meaningful one, inviting the government to listen to their story and how they should address logging.

It is therefore proper that government should only deliberate on the bill after it hears both sides of the house.

The fact that they were invited to the landowners’ meetings this week showed their willingness to discuss the matter fairly and openly.

Whilst we accept that logging remains the biggest foreign revenue earner, we must not forget that our forest will be depleted soon given the rate we are going.

And if we are to stop, what are the options?

Can Solomon Islands continue to survive without logging, given the Central Bank of Solomon Islands Report that logging accounts for more than 60 percent of our foreign receipts last year?

The government is therefore locked in an awkward situation whether it would continue to accept logging or look somewhere else to replace the industry’s income.

Given that situation, both sides of the house will continue to lobby for support but the ultimate decision rests with the government.

As a responsible government we do hope our leaders will make a decision that is of benefit to our country in the future.

March 18, 2005

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