13 Jun 2005

Solomons government plans sale of public enterprises

3:22 pm on 13 June 2005

The Solomon Islands government has announced plans to sell its state-owned enterprises.

The chairman of the taskforce to look at the planned sales, Sir George Lepping, says the government no longer has the money to continue to be involved in commercial undertakings. let alone to develop the rural areas.

Sir George says the government wants to encourage private sector growth to ensure thousands of school leavers get paid jobs.

He made the comment when he announced the sale of the State House site in the centre of Honiara to a Papua New Guinea company for more than one million US dollars despite opposition from civil society groups.

The former State House has been used as an art gallery but the buyers plan to turn it into a hotel to be known as the Heritage Park Hotel.

The general manager of the Investment Corporation of Solomon Islands, John Maneniaru, says it has been told to get ready for sale nine portfolio companies, including Solomon Airlines, S.I. Printry Ltd, and Sasape Marina, as well as ones in forestry and telecommunications.

Mr Maneniaru says they hope to see some of the companies ready for sale by the end of the year.

"It will depend on each particular case. Basically, the work in progress now is engaging consultants who specialise in those areas to actually help government, advising the ministry of finance and the investment board, on what needs to be done."