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Thursday, August 10, 2006

SI Gov't seeks to redress SI's development weaknesses

By George Herming

Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare yesterday strongly heralds the Grand Coalition for Change (GCC) Government’s seriousness into redressing the weaknesses of Solomon Islands slow development progress.

Addressing guests at the official launch of the Government Policy Translation and Implementation Document in Honiara, Mr Sogavare said Solomon Islands was blessed with an abundance of natural resources but still remained an underdeveloped country in the world.

He attached the country’s weak economic performance over the last 28 years to weak visions and strategies that had failed to recognised the importance of engaging the rural sector in development processes.

“The national statistics do not speak well of the way this economy was managed during that period and indeed attest to the correctness of the argument that we have failed miserably,” Mr Sogavare said.

The Prime Minister reiterated that the strength of Solomon Islands and the potentials for economic growth rests in the sustainable development the country’s natural resources both renewable and non-renewable.

“This is a matter of serious concern and calls for development strategies that will ensure that the country maximises the gain from the utilization of our natural resources through a process of responsible public investment programme that is conscious of and driven by the concern that these resources are depleting.

“It is in our best interest that we are guided by the principles of sustainable development in our development endeavours,” he said.

Mr Sogavare believed that Solomon Islands was yet to attract the right kind and quality of investors to develop our natural resources.

Over the years, the only kind of investment that is popular in the country is what Mr Sogavare described as the “natural resource-seeking and market-seeking” types of FDI that describes the behaviour of foreign investments in the 1960’s and 70’s.

“We are 40 years behind in terms of our investment strategy.

“It is no wonder we are not really progressing and are in danger of depleting our resources because we are entertaining an investment strategy that is unsustainable but actively transferring the benefits of downstream processing overseas.

“This is a challenge that we must face head on,” he said.

The Prime Minister believed that his government’s ‘village focused development’ would only be sustainable in the long run if the country had a vibrant private sector actively supporting a public investment program in that direction.

“Our focus in that respect is to encourage villagers to eventually become active participants in economic activities that improve their capacity to financially support the government system,” he said.

Government Officials including government ministers, permanent secretaries and invited guests were present at the launch yesterday morning.

Source: Government Communications Unit

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