LOGGING has long been a get rich quick industry and its strangle hold on leaders has made it difficult to reform this industry.
Opposition Leader Hon Matthew Wale stated during his Budget Debate speech in Parliament on Monday this week.
Hon Wale said now that the industry is closing down, the time is ripe for government to mandate that all logs be processed in Solomon Islands.
“There should be no more export of round logs. Our young people need the jobs in wood processing. What incentives would private sector need to invest in wood processing? Government should provide any such incentives,” Hon Wale said.
He said the record so far is not a good one as we already have a veneer-processing factory employing over a thousand Solomon Islanders.
Hon Wale said the factory has not received any support to make the difficult transition; nor does the factory receive the logs need to run at full capacity.
The Aoke/Langalanga MP said the logging industry will not supply the factory unless forced by regulation, which has not been done.
“The factory runs on its own generators to maintain level of power supply, and with the rise in fuel prices, electricity has gone up significantly. This is a snap shot of the difficulties the investors face when they transition our economy to processing. But government cannot continue to be indifferent and disinterested. How else will we make this transition?” he questioned.
Moreover, the Opposition Leader adds Solomon Islands should not see its future in mining to replace logging.
Hon Wale said mining is not a renewable resource and although mining as an industry may plug the gap left by logging, the same risks we experienced with logging are likely to come with mining.
The Aoke/Langalanga MP said the economy of the next 40 years is in processing.
Hon Wale said the incremental steps taken to get Bina Harbor project closer to processing fish are in the right direction and laudable.
The Opposition Leader adds agriculture processing also remains the most promising of all sectors.