By Mavis N Podokolo
THE Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, Dr Luke Forau has suggested an upscale of the labour mobility and seasonal workers scheme to entice remittance into the country.
The Governor told local Journalists recently that remittance from our seasonal workers overseas, especially in Australia and New Zealand are still small.
He said currently it is yet to have huge impact on the economy.
“But on an individual level it is beneficial for those workers and their families,” he emphasized.
Dr Forau said it has the potential to increase further, which could become a source of the country’s foreign reserves.
“I would like to encourage the labour mobility scheme to upscale,” he said.
Recently a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation states that Australia is in desperate need for at least 26,000 farm workers right now. And local leaders like, Opposition leader, Matthew Wale has joined the chorus in urging the government to take a more proactive approach to ensure more Solomon Islanders can exploit the opportunities offered by the Australian labour mobility schemes.
The Solomon Islands government said it intends to send up to 2000 workers to Australia by the end of 2021.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand government said Seasonal workers from Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu will be allowed into the country without having to go into managed isolation from September, the government says.
MP Wale said he did not understand why Solomon Islands was not included.
“I wondered what criteria was used in selecting the countries that New Zealand has extended that privilege to, and whether it is any different for Solomon Islands,” he told Radio New Zealand.
Wale said his country also had no community transmission of Covid-19 and their border security had been tightened to no- exemption entry, including the once porous border with neighbouring Bougainville.
He said 70 percent of the population was under 30 years old, and many were unemployed now because tourism, fishing and agriculture had all declined.
“Have mercy, please include us. We are absolutely desperate and the New Zealand RSE programme is a life saver for the Solomon Islands.
“I would ask that the Solomon Islands is included in the first cohort of countries. We’re no different from Vanuatu and Tonga.”