9 Jun 2005

Solomons MP says he is skeptical about billion dollar plan to log on Vanikoro Island

3:57 pm on 9 June 2005

An MP from the Solomon Islands province of Temotu, Patteson Oti, says a proposed tourism development on Vanikoro Island may be a pretext to start logging there.

The Temotu deputy premier, Noel Keniano, announced that an Australian led consortium is about to launch a one point six billion US dollar plan to set up a sawmill and build a tourist complex there.

Mr Keniano said the consortium will form a joint venture company with the Vanikoro landowners and the Temotu provincial government.

But Mr Oti says in his experience, logging and tourism have never worked well together and he remains suspicious of the project's final objectives.

"I'm not convinced that these two can go together hand in hand. I'm very skeptical. A lot of cases where forestry has been used as a pretext to get Foreign Investment Board approval. Normally these two don't go together."

All foreign investments must go before the Foreign Investment Board but the Minister of Commerce, Walton Naezon, says he has yet to receive any proposal.