Employees of tourism industry and Soltuna to be laid off

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Soltuna cannery at Noro in Western province. Photo courtesy: Tri Marine
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By EDDIE OSIFELO

A growing number of employees in the tourism and fisheries sectors are being laid off as the impacts of the global covid-19 pandemic grips Solomon Islands’ economy.

Soltuna company, which employed 1000-plus workers at its cannery in Noro, Western Province is expected to cut down on its workers soon.

Most of the employees at Noro are females compared to males.

Speaking in Parliament on the motion to extend the State of Public Emergency to four month on Tuesday, Minister of Finance and Treasury, Harr Kuma said fisheries exports, mostly tuna exported to Italy, also indicated a declined trend from the end of the 1st quarter and onwards.

Kuma said prices are likely to fall by 5%.

He said this will severely affect the operation of Soltuna and the employment of mainly women and girls in Noro.

In addition, Kuma said with current travel restrictions, tourism has practically disappeared.

He said tourism industry is likely to continue to loss business and employee laid off in the coming months.

Furthermore, Kuma said the restraint measures against COVID-19 are likely to dampen domestic consumption and delay donor supported infrastructure projects such as Tina Hydro and the 2023 Pacific Games stadium in Honiara.

Moreover, Kuma said under the recent assessment by International Monetary Fund, logging exports, our main export and major source of government revenue, has slowed down during February to April is likely to reduce further by July 2020.

He said the industry is highly dependent on demand from Asia, in particular China.

“The strong decline in economic activity in China during the first quarter has worsened the slowdown in already weakening logging sector,” he said.

The Minister of Finance said oil price is likely to drop significantly in 2020.

“As an oil consumer we will benefit from lower fuel price and lower import bill of fuel.

“The down side however, is that Government revenue from oil will also fall,” he said.

Despite these backdrops and challenges, Kuma wish to encourage businesses to keep going, and the rural populous to continue to plough and farm the land.

He said the government is determined and has mobilised domestic and external resources to prepare the country, limiting the financial and economic fallout of COVID-19 on our domestic economy.

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