Cabinet Approves Gov’t Purchase Of LSL Sites, Shares In RIPEL

0
280
Participants in a Government consultation on RIPEL in late 2016.

Cabinet had deliberated on and approved a Cabinet Paper in late 2016 requesting the Government to implement the following agendas:

  1. The purchase of Hells Point land for the establishment of a Bomb Disposal Training Facility of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force based on an agreement entered into between the Solomon Islands Government and the Government of the United State of America to develop a frame work for the US Department of State to assist in building the capacity of the RSIPF Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit ;
  2. The purchase of Bloody Ridge for the establishment of a WWII Memorial National Park by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism;
  3. The acquisition of 11 hectares of land around Tenaru for a number of initiatives including the establishment of sporting facilities in preparation for the 2023 Pacific Games, housing projects and relocation of the National Referral Hospital; and
  4. The prospective acquisition of a 20 percent share in the Russell Islands Plantations Limited (RIPEL) subject to completion of due diligence requirements.

The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) said the land purchase agendas are in line with the Democratic Coalition for Change Government reform programme to enhance national development priorities.

It said this reform objective is captured in the Lands and Titles (Amendment) Act 2016 which extended the Commissioner of Lands’ right of resumption to fixed term estates or parts of fixed term estates under section 100 of the principle Land and Titles Act where there is no actual grant.

The OPMC said the registered title for Hells Point, Edson Bloody Ridge and additional parcels included in the purchase, is currently held by Levers Solomon Ltd (LSL) and together with RIPEL, are owned by Foreign Investors who have majority shares in both entities. 

It said the acquisition of Hells Point, Bloody Ridge and the additional 11 hectares of land currently remain undeveloped and therefore will be done in accordance with the provisions of the relevant laws of Solomon Islands.

As for the acquisition of a 20 percent share in RIPEL, the OPMC said the legitimate facilitation of any prospective transfer of shares is still subject to completion of necessary formalities.

It said the DCCG is determined to revitalise the dormant Russell Islands Plantations Limited (RIPEL) and address outstanding issues which has prevented the development of this significant national asset.

The OPMC said in its approval of the Cabinet Paper, Cabinet has instructed the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services and the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey to execute the contract of sale for the aforementioned sites after formal legal review.

It said Cabinet has also instructed the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey and the Ministry of Finance and Treasury to avail the necessary funds for the acquisition of the sites that does not involve a takeover by the Solomon Islands Ports Authority.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Sub Committee for RIPEL has completed its Report on the Enquiry on RIPEL matters, carried out in December, 2016.

This Government Report, will be tabled to Cabinet in due course. The enquiry specifically deals with RIPEL as in the Russell Islands.

However, as the issues are closely related, the Cabinet Sub-Committee for RIPEL is optimistic that the Government initiatives for Hells Point and Bloody Ridge will have a positive impact on ongoing work with RIPEL.

“These initiatives will contribute to the settlement of the matter as it is a clear objective of DCC Government to ensure that other cross sectoral activities are also prioritised in accordance with the ongoing policy programme,” the Cabinet Sub-Committee on RIPEL said.