3 Dec 2004

Solomons landowners assured of a vastly improved income under new forestry Bill

2:19 pm on 3 December 2004

The permanent secretary of the Solomon Islands Department of Forestry, Environment and Conservation, Steve Likaveke, says landowners are assured of far greater earnings under the new forestry bill.

While there has been extensive criticism of the Bill, Mr Likaveke says it is expected to be approved by Cabinet this weekend.

The latest critic is prominent lawyer Andrew Nori, who has close links to the logging industry.

Among Mr Nori's concerns, included in a 27 page document released this week, is the ten percent royalty the landowners will get.

He says they should also get most of the government's 25 percent.

But Mr Likaveke says the ten percent is a minimum cash payment and a big improvement on the current situation.

"It is also open to negotiation between the logging operator and the customary landowners. But we would like to assist the landowners by legislating that a minimum of ten percent has to be in cash - paid in cash to the landowners, instead of giving them all sorts of promises, empty promises, as it stands now."

Mr Likaveke.