Gov’t is listening to farmers, exporters
Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo says the government will be listening to cocoa farmers and exporters on whether to open the industry for foreigners to compete.
His comments came as local cocoa exporters took on Commerce minister Elijah Doro Muala over the issuance of a controversial gazette.
This was for the granting of a cocoa export licence to Pacific Exporters Limited (PEL), a subsidiary of MH Cash & Carry of Malaysia.
Local exporters and pressure groups had called on Lilo to sack Muala over his controversial decision.
While he did not respond directly to the calls, Lilo confirmed he had sought advice from the Attorney General on the matter.
“I will be guided by the attorney-general’s advice on the issue,” Lilo told the Sunday Star.
The prime minister could not disclose the advice he got from the attorney-general.
But he said despite minister Muala’s gazette, no licence had yet been issued to PEL.
“The matter is now brought back before the CEMA (Commodities Export Marketing Authority) board for consideration.
“CEMA board has yet to meet to deliberate on PEL’s application and also make a decision on whether to grant the licence or not,” Lilo says.
“Regarding policy on cocoa, the government is listening to farmers and exporters on whether or not to open the market to create competition in the industry,” he added.
The CEMA board had previously deferred its decision on PEL’s application, saying the company failed to meet the requirements provided under the CEMA Act.
Sunday Star's request to MH Cash & Carry for an interview for this story was not possible because the manager was away overseas.
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