14 Jun 2012

Solomon Islands PM defends failure to settle payout to RIPEL

4:35 am on 14 June 2012

The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands is urging the leader of the opposition to refrain from pushing for a cash settlement in a long-running issue involving the company Russell Islands Plantations Limited.

The government is yet to honour a deal made last year to purchase the company's assets for 24 million Solomon Islands dollars, after industrial disputes halted operations at the plant in 2004.

In a statement the opposition leader Derek Sikua says Gordon Darcy Lilo must do the right thing by immediately settling the RIPEL payout to allow the government to take ownership of the plant and resume operations.

Dr Sikua says the only impediments to settling the payout are the prime minister's personal grudge against the chairman of RIPEL.

Mr Lilo has responded in a statement, saying Dr Sikua does not understand the fundamental issues behind the matter, saying it is more than money but other underlying issues in law, fairness, and the commercial value of RIPEL.

He says the government is working on finding solutions that are fair to the country and the chairman of RIPEL and within the legitimate processes.