2 Jul 2007

Push to keep Solomon Islands state-owned fishing company being sold to foreigners

7:02 pm on 2 July 2007

There is a push to keep a state-owned fishing company in Solomon Islands from being sold to foreign interests.

The premier of Western Province, Alex Lokopio, says Soltai Fishing and Processing company should remain in Solomon Islands hands.

He says Soltai, which is based in Western Province and employs more than 1,300 workers, is the only state-owned company the country has.

Mr Lokopio, who's currently in Honiara, says he will be meeting the prime minister, the Fisheries Minister and the Finance Minister this week, in an effort to oppose any plans to sell Soltai, which is 51 percent owned by the national government and 49 percent by Western Province.

"Western Province is the only province in the Solomons which normally pumps millions of dollars to the national government in export and import, and other taxes so I think they will listen to us. Now that the tsunami has struck the Western Province, even the national government is trying to help us to recover."

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