Caucus chairman clarifies bauxite zero duty

Chairman of the Government Caucus Jackson Fiulaua says sound investment incentives are important to the country’s economic development.

Mr Fiulaua, who is also Member of Parliament for Central Kwara’ae, made the statement in light of criticisms against a Cabinet decision to impose a zero duty on bauxite exports from the country.

“Sound investment incentives will derive needed revenue to the national purse, to the provincial governments and will ascertain the creation of job opportunities for nearly a thousand school drop outs, school leavers and graduates every year,” Mr Fiulaua said.

He says to provide an attractive environment to investors; there must be investment incentives, harmonized interactions between investors and leaders at both national and provincial levels.

He added foreign investors must be made to feel welcomed and not be made to feel they are in the country to corrupt its leaders as has been insinuated by government critics against the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Foreign Investment Division of the Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration, Derek Aihari supports the sentiments echoed by Mr Fiulaua.

He says he cannot agree more as his ministry encourages an investment environment conducive to attracting foreign investors to invest their hard earned money in Solomon Islands.

Both Mr Fiulaua and Mr Aihari made the statements yesterday in rebutting criticisms leveled at Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare for giving zero duty tax on bauxite exports from Rennell to Bintan Mining SI Ltd.

They said the Sogavare Cabinet decision is in line with the government’s policy of giving incentives and ensuring harmonized interactions with the country’s investors.

Meanwhile, the Comptroller of Customs and Excise, Nathan Kama explained there is nothing sinister about the decision to give the zero duty tax on the bauxite exports.

The decision, he said, is regarded as an incentive to an investor in the country’s mining industry.

And the Prime Minister’s Office says the 20-percent duty imposed was a penalty tax imposed upon Bintang Borneo for illegally extracting bauxite on West Rennell, adding the normal duty under Customs law is Zero Percent.

The Prime Minister’s Office says the mining company Prime Minister Sogavare communicated with is not the same Bintang Borneo that had unlawfully extracted bauxite from West Rennell and for which the Solomon Islands Government had imposed the 20-percent export tax penalty.

Further it is not uncommon for citizens, interest groups, investors, companies, Church and even sports groups to at times, write or raise issues directly with the Prime Minister as Head of the Government whenever circumstances require such interventions.

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Mr Sogavare more often than not at his own discretion takes the time to clarify or inform these various stakeholders of the Government’s views, intentions, policies and decisions in response to their queries, letters and messages which demonstrates the Prime Minister’s commitment towards advancing the national interest without fear or favour.

– Gov’t Communications Unit