Wednesday, May 23, 2018

1) Shift in Solomon Islands government's view on Papua


2) West Papua visit lacked transparency says Solomons group
3) Border Ban Targets Traders Without Licence
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1) Shift in Solomon Islands government's view on Papua
A leading foreign affairs official from the Solomon Islands government says it's now seeing a balanced picture on Indonesia's Papua region.
2:44 pm on 23 May 2018 

The government is consulting with the provinces as it formulates an official position on West Papuan human rights and self-determination issues.
Consultations follow a visit by a Solomons government-led delegation to Indonesia's provinces of Papua and West Papua at the invitation of Jakarta.
The Solomons' Special Secretary on Foreign Relations, Rence Sore, was one of the government officials in the delegation.
He said the visit was aimed at achieving a balanced picture of what's going on in Papua.
"Before we went we had been listening to the other side of the story. And the story we heard, we were always hearing at that time, was there's always human rights abuse, there's always fighting for independence, someone is being killed and all that. It's one-sided, all one-sided."
Rence Sore said that when they went to Papua region, the story was entirely different.
He said that for now the government had yet to decide on its official position regarding West Papua and Papua provinces.
"We're trying to give the government a good picture. Both sides of the coin we have to tell the government, and the government independently makes that policy decision."
The delegation's visit and resulting report were indications that the Solomon Islands government, under prime minister Rick Hou, was approaching a different stand on Papua to that of the previous prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Mr Sogavare, who is now the deputy prime minister, campaigned internationally about West Papuan human rights issues. He was also supportive of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, and instrumental in its admission to the Melanesian Spearhead Group in 2015.
The Liberation Movement, which Indonesia's government opposes, last month voiced disappointment that it wasn't notified by Solomon Islands about the delegation's visit.
Mr Sore, who said his government consulted with Indonesian authorities for the visit, noted the Liberation Movement's strong connections with civil society organisations in Solomon Islands.
"And to some extent, that strong connection also was with the previous Solomon Islands leadership, government, prime minister.
"We went (to Indonesia) with authorisation from the current prime minister, and official authorities were notified.
However Mr Sore would not be drawn on whether the Hou-led government had shifted position on Papua.
"That decision is not yet formal. It depends entirely on the report. We did a report when we came back, and we are still doing the consultations on the policy. That policy will go through the government cabinet.”
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2) West Papua visit lacked transparency says Solomons group
by  May 23, 2018
There should have been more transparency around a government-led delegation‘s visit to West Papua last month, a leader of Solomon Islands civil society says.
Downtown Jayapura. Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins
The Solomon Star reports Development Service Exchange (DSE) spokesperson Jennifer Wate made the comment while rejecting any involvement in the trip.
This is despite DSE chairperson, Inia Barry, being among several from civil society organisations who went along on the visit which was hosted by Indonesia.
Ms Wate said her organisation had found out about the trip the evening before the delegation‘s departure for West Papua.
The DSE did not endorse Mr Barry or any of the other civil society representatives who took part in the West Papua visit, she said
Ms Wate maintained her organisation was not aware of any details of the trip or its terms of reference and she called on the Solomon Islands government in the future to formally approach the DSE on matters that required civil sector representation.
Ms Wate also admonished the government for not informing civil society groups in West Papua ahead of their trip.
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3) Rio Tinto to sell $3.5b-worth interest in Freeport

Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Wed, May 23, 2018 | 11:58 am

Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto confirmed on Wednesday that it planned to sell its participating interest in Papua’s Grasberg mine -- the world’s largest gold and second-largest copper mine -- for $3.5 billion.
Grasberg mine is currently owned by PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), a subsidiary of United States-based gold and copper miner Freeport-McMoRan.
London-based Rio Tinto says it is discussing the sale with state-owned mining holding PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) and Freeport-McMoran, Rio Tinto says in a statement published in the company website.
Rio Tinto notes reports of the potential purchase by Inalum of Rio Tinto's entire interest in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia for $3.5 billion.
The government has appointed Inalum to buy PTFI’s shares, in line with a law that requires foreign mining companies to divest 51 percent of their shares to Indonesian entities. PTFI has long been in talks with the government on the divestment.
The process been taking place since early 2017, with the government initially aiming to conclude negotiations by the end of 2017. However, the government extended the divestment deadline for Freeport until 2019 with the issuance of Energy and Mineral Resources Ministerial Regulation No. 25/2018 earlier this month.
However, Rio Tinto said a final decision had not been made. "No agreement has been reached and there is no certainty that a binding agreement will be signed," the firm says.
Freeport-McMoRan and Rio Tinto established an unincorporated joint venture in 1995, which gave the latter control of 40 percent interest up to 2022 in certain assets and future production above specific levels in one of the blocks at Grasberg.  (bbn)   
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3) Border Ban Targets Traders Without Licence
 The Ban On Vanilla Trade Along The PNG-Indonesian Border In West Sepik Province Is Only Targeting Illegal Traders. 

By Matthew Vari
The ban on vanilla trade along the PNG-Indonesian border in West Sepik Province is only targeting illegal traders.
That was the update by deputy secretary technical services Steven Mombi when asked on permitting issues faced within major vanilla provinces in the Sepik region.
The lucrative vanilla trade along the border will not cease according to Mr Mombi, however, will be restricted to traders with valid permits from the department.
“There is a ban on vanilla trade at the border. Basically it is not a ban but it is ban on the illegal traders, where people are not conducting business in a way that we should safeguard our product from outside, so that is the problem at the moment,” Mr Mombi said.
“The illegal traders are the ones that do not have the licenses and are doing the trade, these are the ones that are hurting the industry as they are getting immature beans and selling those.
“Instead of beans fully maturing they are doing all those illegal activities like boiling and polishing and putting wire into the beans and making the weight increase.”
Mr Mombi reiterated that while the price of vanilla continues to climb due to the demand from Indonesia’s West Papua province, the country still has to ensure it makes the most of its vanilla crop from within the correct authorising process.
He said the department is working hard to tighten the permitting process, which, he said, was previously done without proper control by an officer from the previous spice board.
“We have tightened that up and are actually doing it properly now,” he said.
“What we have done is to redirect everybody, he (former spice board member) was issuing in the streets.
“We have now instructed that buyers go the Planning (Department of National Planning) office (Vulupindi Haus, Port Moresby) and pay there, get a receipt and the license will be issued.”
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