Will not back down or resign
Commerce minister Elijah Doro Muala has threatened to sack the Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA) board.
He sounded the warning after the board failed to act on a controversial gazette he issued recently.
The gazette requires the board to grant Pacific Exporters Limited (PEL) a licence to export cocoa.
But the CEMA board is yet to issue the licence.
“The board must grant that licence because the gazette is a ministerial directive,” Muala told the Sunday Star in an exclusive interview.
He accused the board of playing double standard.
“Some of the board members are cocoa exporters themselves,” Muala claims.
“This is why they kept on deferring PEL’s application.”
Muala says PEL, a subsidiary of Malaysian-owned Carpenters Group, has a licence to buy cocoa locally and saw no reason why it shouldn’t be issued an export licence.
CEMA board chairman Alpha Kimata could not be reached for comments as he was in his home province of Choiseul.
Meanwhile, Muala says he stands by his decision to issue the gazette.
And he will not back down or resign his ministerial job.
Forum Solomon Islands International, a pressure group made up of Solomon Islanders from all walks of life, has called on Muala to step down in the wake of his controversial decision.
The group also urged Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo to sack the minister if he refused to go.
By Ofani Eremae
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