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Friday, May 11, 2007

RAMSI head says good planning is relevant for Solomons long term sustainable economic growth

by Qila Tuhanuku

Solomon Islands need to make plans for its economic future now if it wants to lock- in the conditions for sustainable economic growth, RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George said yesterday.

Speaking at a lunch hosted by the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce, Mr George said that despite the great progress made on rebuilding the economy there is still a need for better medium term economic planning.

“This planning needs to be based on a realistic assessment of future options and a sharper assessment of potential risks," Mr George said.

“The big risks are still there, as we have seen even in RAMSI’s time; political instability, vested interests and corruption can all distort the economy.”

The business community also has a role in continuing the good work that has been going on in these areas, Mr George told Chamber members.

“As business people and as the commercial sector’s peak body, you need to be vigilant; you need to be a watchdog for the nation’s commercial interests, to participate fully in the efforts to combat corruption and establish responsible economic management,”

Logging stood out as a key issue where better management could bring better results he said. Although some improvement has been made in recent times, the people of the Solomon Islands deserved a fair return for their most valuable natural resource.

“It would seem that currently both the Government in terms of revenue and Solomon Islands landowners are losers in this sector.”

“Logging is currently the major foreign exchange earner and largest single sector of economic activity. Yet it is neither sustainable at current rates nor is it providing to the country a just return for the resources that are being extracted, based on current world prices,” Mr George said.

He also took the opportunity to put on the public record again, RAMSI‘s willingness to improve its consultations with the Solomon Islands Government at the political level.

“In this context I welcome very much the willingness Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has shown in engaging with me and with RAMSI, and in having a genuine dialogue on the SIG-RAMSI partnership.”

Mr George said he also welcomed the creation of the new position of RAMSI special envoy within the Prime Minister’s Office and looked forward to working closely with the new envoy, Mr Michael Maina.

Source: RAMSI

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