WATCHDOG WANTS POLITICOS OUT OF SOLOMONS LOGGING

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Solomons logs exported at cut-rate prices

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 24, 2008) – Transparency Solomon Islands says the involvement of politicians in logging remains linked to continuing problems with the issuance of licences and the determination of log export prices.

TSI’s comments come as the Central Bank’s 2007 fourth quarter report shows log production rose by 29 percent to a record high of more than 418,000 cubic metres.

The Bank also says that although international prices for logs have reached more than US$275 per cubic metre, local logs continue to fetch only a quarter of that price on average.

TSI’s Jean Tafoa says MPs are too influential in the price determination process. She says the country needs a system where the determination of log value is reviewed each quarter by technical experts, in synch with world market prices.

"We want to ensure that, or make the public know that, the members of those strategic ministries like Forestry and Finance, they do not interfere with the pricing of logs or they leave it totally to those technical people to do it rather than the political influence in it."

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