2 Jul 2007

Solomon Islands Western Province concerned over future of Soltai cannery

3:37 pm on 2 July 2007

The Solomon Islands Western Province premier, Alex Lokopio, is to meet the prime minister and other ministers in the national government this week over the future of Soltai Fishing and Processing Company.

There are two shareholders in Soltai, with 49 percent owned by the Western Province while the national government has 51 percent through the Investment Corporation Solomon Islands.

Mr Lokopio says he's in Honiara to voice his opposition to any plans to sell Soltai, which is based in Western Province, and employs more than 1,300 people.

He says he's yet to receive confirmation that the government will go ahead with the sale but it's the only state-owned company the country has and they need to put their trust in Solomon Islanders who manage it now.

"If we sell it to an outsider or any foreign company, then we will lose a lot of our workers and some of those people who manage it now, may not have the opportunity to manage a company. And, the money that we're supposed to have here in the Solomons, will drain out into the hands of the foreigner."

Mr Lokopio says he's been told that the national government is looking to sell the company to a Filipino enterprise.