24 Apr 2008

Solomons watchdog wants experts not politicians to determine log prices

7:46 pm on 24 April 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-thousand cubic metres.

The Bank also says that although international prices for logs have reached more than 275-US dollars 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 interfer with the pricing of logs or they leave it totally to those technical people to do it rather than the political influence in it."

TSI's Jean Tafoa