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Solomon's Mines & Minerals Bill Concerns Clarified

Ministry Of Mines Clarifies Sicci Concerns On Mines And Minerals Amendment Bill

The Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification says recent concerns by the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) have fallen short of relevant understanding of the whole nature and intent of the recent tabling in parliament of the Amendment Bill of the Mines and Minerals Act.

SICCI last Tuesday, criticized the government for lack of consultation with the private sector before the bill was tabled in Parliament.

The Chamber further warned that the change in that piece of legislation would have wide ranging implications that would have adverse effects on the mining sector and the national economy.

In response to the claims, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines Tione Bugotu explained that the amendment bill was simply made to provide legal provision for conducting of International Tender Processes to determine interested prospectors.

"It is difficult to understand where the Chamber of Commerce's specific concern lies with the Amendment Bill," he said.

Mr Bugotu further explained that the Amendment Bill was tabled to ensure appropriate wording that gives legal interpretation for the international tender processes to be conducted in line with the CNURA government priority policy of a clear and transparent manner.

"The Amendment Bill also enables the drafting of appropriate regulations that will prescribe the procedures for tendering both internationally and locally and that simply facilitates the administrative process and therefore has no direct bearing on the Chambers concerns," he said.

Mr Bugotu also said that the parliamentary process provides that ministries can make amendments as they wish, particularly if amendments support the facilitation of an administrative process.

"There is hardly any need to consult stakeholders in this case, unless the amendment involves a major change in the process that directly has an effect on prospective investors," Bugotu said.

He further stressed that this Amendment in fact moved away from decisions being made behind closed doors and allows for more transparency in decisions being made.

"It will provide for all interested applicants to compete on a level playing field".

Mr Bugotu urged the Chamber of Commerce to obtain a copy of the amendment bill and study it in detail to see that it is no big deal as initially envisage.


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