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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ulufa'alu finds dosage for Growth

By George Tausiria

Finance Minister Hon. Bart Ulufa’alu yesterday outlined his prescription to enhance rural-led growth and increase Solomon Islands Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Minister said: Prior to the elections the Winds of Change had created an expectation for change, hence the Grand Coalition’s rural-led development strategy.”

In any calculations for growth, Mr Ulufa’alu said the base of economic growth lies in the 50 constituencies.

He said for the GDP to increase, government needs to focus its attention on the more than 400,000 in the informal and self-employment sector in the rural areas.

The Minister observed that since 2003, the development budget allocations in the productive sector – agriculture, fisheries, forestry, commerce and tourism – were not fully realized, hence the need to push the idea of a private service provider.

The real constraint according to Mr Ulufa’alu has been: “Compulsory saving is high but there is no compulsory lending, there is high liquidity in the financial system.”

The minister then made a reference to the Copra industry, saying if it is to grow it needs driers, ship, cash and crushing mills if it is to go downstream.

“All these can be provided if there is government intervention,” he said.

“Such an intervention can happen, if the development budget allocations to the productive sector, that have not been fully utilized since 2003, can be re-allocated to the Investment Corporation of Solomon Islands on behalf of the 50 constituencies for equity purposes, so that ICSI is able to buy shares in private companies that develop this industry and of course productivity.

“In return, the private sector will and should develop the industry, provide dividend and revenue to SIG where at the end of the day, the dividend goes back to the constituency while government makes money from normal taxes, salaries and wages that can be earned through rural employment.”

The Finance Minister said a formula for the copra industry with strong elements of ownership and creativity can be applied to the other productive sectors.

Source: Government Communication Unit

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