BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
SECRETARY General of the Pacific Islands Forum has called on Pacific leaders to work together to address challenges encountered.
Speaking at the opening of the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting in Port Vila SG Henry Puna highlighted that everyone is living in a very challenging times and Forum member countries are experiencing the hit of that in terms of their economy.
He told Finance ministers attending the meeting that the challenges fall directly under your responsibilities as Finance and Economic Ministers,
“We all need to work together, to collaborate, and assist our people and grow our economies to ensure that no one is left behind. It is critical that all key stakeholders, including government, private sector, civil society organisations, women’s groups and our young people to work together to collectively address our challenges.
“Our Blue Pacific region faces significant challenges. The ongoing climate change crisis our region faces, and the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our economies. This is being exacerbated by geo-political tensions such as the Russia-Ukraine war and its impacts on the global economy”, Secretary General Puna said.
Puna said economies remain vulnerable many countries face long term debt sustainability challenges. Our people are threatened by rising cost of living that is affecting their livelihoods and communities. Supply chain disruptions are affecting trade, the operations and profitability of our private sector and the availability of some goods and services. Interest rates are rising, resulting in higher costs of servicing our debts and paying off our mortgages.
“These are issues that you deal with at national level on a daily basis. We are interested to hear your experiences, especially any success stories you may have on how you have addressed these challenges. Sharing experiences, priorities and lessons learnt help strengthen regional cooperation to support economic recovery, resilience and stability in our region”, Puna added.
Meanwhile, former Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands and now the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Senior Adviser – Economics Denton Rarawa told Island Sun in Port Vila that that FEMM gathers Finance ministers and as well PS Finance to come together to discuss different issues that affects their countries in terms of the economy.
This meeting the main key issues of discussion is on the 2050 strategy which leaders within the region endorsed in Suva last month during the Forum Leaders meeting, and in this meeting the Forum also took papers to the Finance Ministers on COVID 19 how it affects their countries and what are some of their policy measures or strategies they have taken to recover in terms of the economy.
“As we all know COVID pandemic has disrupted the economy of Forum Members countries and we are looking at how we can assist our members to recover and what are the plans going forward in terms of the future”, Rarawa said.
He said Solomon Islands like any countries in the region also have gone through a lot of challenges in terms of the economy because of the COVID and now the impact of Russia/Ukraine war which is also creating new challenges, and countries will face increase on fuel prices, food and others.