Leader of Opposition, Hon. Matthew Wale questions the ongoing delay in bringing the proposed Mines and Minerals bill to Parliament.
The Opposition Leader points out that the current Mines and Minerals Act is said to be obsolete in many respects hence amendments are crucial.
Wale says if one of the underlying objectives of the proposed bill is to ensure that our mineral resources are properly regulated, managed and sustainably exploited, it is imperative that the it is brought to the forefront of government business at the earliest.
He says the responsible ministry in its dire condition clearly lacks the capacity in almost all areas required for it to effectively and efficiently discharge of its role.
“This is a weakness that has been proven to have succumbed to abuse and corrupt practices in the recent past.
“The ongoing delay on necessary push to improve the administrative and regulatory systems therefore, will only aggravate this situation.
“What is even more concerning now is, logging companies with no history whatsoever in exploration and mining are mutating into mining companies and obtaining licences easily,” says Hon. Wale.
The Opposition Leader goes on to add that, “This raises serious questions on the credibility of any due diligence process conducted to determine the financial and technical capacities, and environmental track records of logging companies and other shelf companies vying for mining rights”.
He says a lot of the controversial recent prospecting and mining licence grants were made under the reign of the current Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, Hon. Bradly Tovosia.
Referring to earlier media publications, the Opposition Leader further points out that Tovosia has been previously accused by investors for attempts to solicit bribes from investors in exchange for mining rights.
“Two recent mining licences he granted in respect of mineral deposits in North West Choiseul and Turarana, Central Guadalcanal were met with allegations of abuse of process.
“The owners of these companies have close connections to the Minister and senior government officials and the logging industry.
“Allegations implicating the Minister and government officials in charge of the responsible ministry only dampen any hope of seeing the proposed bill hitting the floor of Parliament any time soon, and this is not in the interest of protecting our extractive resources.
“I therefore call on the Prime Minister to ensure that the bill is brought to the forefront and to cause an investigation into the recent licence grants. If indeed Mr. Tovosia has abused the process, the Prime Minister must sack him,” the Opposition Leader further adds.
– Opposition Press