2 Nov 2004

Solomons cabinet split over new forestry legislation

5:09 pm on 2 November 2004

In Solomon Islands opposition to the proposed Forest Bill 2004 the government is planning to table in parliament this month has surfaced within Cabinet.

Two ministers of the Kemakeza government have rejected the bill saying they will oppose it in parliament.

The Minister of State and the Minister of Agriculture have issued a statement saying the new bill is an immoral and undemocratic intrusion into customary land ownership.

John Garo and Alfred Sasako say it is an over reaction motivated to punish both the customary land and resource owners and logging companies and will transfer rights of customary land and resource owners to outsiders.

They say the bill will vest legal and more power in the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Forests, provincial secretaries and courts.

They also say taking away the identity of ownership will only help fuel more disputes over customary ownership of the resources.

Mr Sasako and Mr Garo suggest that the proposed Bill be re-drafted.