The Western Provincial flag. Photo: SIBC.

The Western Provincial flag. Photo: SIBC.

The Western provincial government has come under heavy criticism by landowners of Shortland islands over the manner it handled a timber rights hearing at Nila last week.

The timber rights hearing was conducted by newly elected Premier Wayne Maepio and 14 of his provincial executive members upon an application by the Oceanic Trading Logging Company Limited to dispose off timber rights over a few customary land parcels.

SIBC stringer for Shortland islands, John Kotaru alleged, the company had paid $350,000 to the Western provincial account for the hearing, a payment described by the concerned landowners as only “self satisfying”.

“Of the $350,000 package, each provincial executive member was given an allowance of $10,000 per sitting. The landowners who wished for anonymity expressed concerns over this matter, describing this move by the Western provincial government as “self satisfying”. They went on to express that as provincial leaders, they should not entertain such actions.”

While the company will offset the payment from a 15 percent royalty payment to the landowners, Mr. Kotaru adds the landowners are calling on the national government to make sure their resources are not stolen.

“The concerned landowners call on the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) Government to address the matter as they expect better returns from development activities they allow, but instead are being ripped off from day one by such processes.”

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