PROMINENT Honiara businessman and the President of the United Democratic Party (UDP) Sir Thomas Chan is calling on the national government to look into new ways Solomon Islands can develop its resources to grow the economy.
Speaking in an exclusive interview, he said national government must work together with development partners to bring into the country genuine investors to establish manufacturing industries.
“We need development partners to find overseas markets for us to manufacture and export our local produce because we have the best pineapple, banana, taro, we have everything we can produce to boost SI economy,” Chan adds.
“We are blessed with abundant of sea and land resources, we sit on a gold mine but we don’t know how to develop and look after it.
“Logging is depleting and the government need to look into other revenue earner for the country such as the agriculture sector, fishery and tourism.
“SI has good climate for agriculture compare to overseas countries that have different seasons of planting crops, in SI we have dry and wet season and we can produce so much and we need to learn from our development partners.
“We should blame ourselves of not willing to utilise our resources, therefore we need development partners to train us with knowledge and skills.
“Development partners are keen to help us but government need to open up land to attract them to come and establish economic developments here,” he said.
The current and future government need political will to pass the propose land reform.
“Having tough laws on land will draw investors to venture into big economic developments such as fish farming, prawn farming and cattle farming, this can happen if government leaders work together.
“I call on development partners to assist us, because they dubbed us, as aid dependency.
“However, we have proved them; that we have abundant of resources to stop dependent mentality.”
Over the years, SI was assisting in the natural disasters in mainland China, Taiwan, cyclone in Fiji and bush fire in Melbourne that totalled to millions of dollars.
Various business houses, international organisations, individuals and the national government send relief supplies to Western and Choiseul provinces after the deadly tsunami in 2007.
Consignment of goods sent to the tsunami victims in western province were comprised of food items and tools from Chinese shops in Honiara.
“This funds from Solomon Islanders, it shows we have heart and we can do something for our people,” he added.
“When the Diamond Jubilee SI raise SBD$1.5million, we sent it to Commonwealth through Queen Elizabeth, then Burking Ham palace rank us sixth out of 54 Commonwealth countries.
“Only sixth countries they give us rank for young leadership, avoidable blindness, so we are one of the best three in the pacific, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Samoa.
“Why they give us this because our country is small and we give so much to the Commonwealth, it shows that we can do it.
“Furthermore, when the tsunami hit the South East Asia we raise SBD$370,000, the sum of money was utilised to rebuild schools at Sri Lanka.
“I am optimistic to see this country become a model in the pacific and one of the richest in the world too.
“Solomon Islanders must take ownership of their resources because we must not allow others exploitation of our resources and left us with nothing.”
By ELLIOT DAWEA