BY MAVIS NISHIMURA PODOKOLO
PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela has told Japan’s Economic Forum ahead of today’s PALM 8th Summit that the country’s economy has grown to an estimated 3.8 percent this year.
Houenipwela, in his address to the 14 PALM leaders and more than 100 top businessmen and women of Japan, said that SI’s economic progress has been consistently improving as noted by its broad economic statistics in recent years: Economic growth – 3.7 percent (2017) and estimate 3.8 percent (2018); Inflation rate: 1.8 percent (2017) – may rise to 3.8 percent in 2018; Balance of Payments has been improving – $218 Million surplus in 2017; Gross Reserves are consistently high – now at 11.8 months of imports cover (2017); Debt/GDP Ratio has been declining to 10 percent in 2017, which we want cap at not more than 15 percent in 2018 – due to a rise both in domestic and external debt; Population growth rate however, has been one of the world’s highest at 2.6 percent pa; With more than 45 percent of population under 25 years of age, there is a very vibrant work force – to be well harnessed; Solomon Islands is being recommended for graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status by the United Nations.
“We are looking to embrace this with a more vigorous stance to make the best out of it.”
He alluded to the growth in successful cooperation and development of economic relations between Japan and Solomon Island.
“Japans economic relations with Solomon Islands may be tiny in terms of Japan’s own standards. However, in Solomon Islands terms it is not only very significant, but it has become multifaceted and has grown in respect of the diversity of their engagement,” he said.
“In recent years Japan has divested from large scale investments in fisheries, and simultaneously it has increased its investment in public sector infrastructure development in the transportation sectors: Aviation, Maritime as well as in the Road Transportation.
“At the same time Japan has also significantly increased its engagement in social and economic areas including education, health, waste management, water, climate change mitigation.
“Indeed Japan plays a crucial role in SI economy. In recent years, Japanese grant assistance has boosted major and critical infrastructure projects in our country, such as the Honiara International Port upgrade, Honiara Urban water supply upgrade, and now the current work on Phase One of the Main Kukum Highway upgrade, to name a few,” he told the Forum.