By EDDIE OSIFELO
OPPOSITION Leader, Mathew Wale urges the government to keep the economy functioning in this time of economic recession caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) globally.
Speaking in Parliament on the motion to approve State of Public Emergency and for its continuation for next four months, Wale said in the macro, international trade in the main commodities exported by Solomon Islands are severely curtailed.
He said commodity prices are expected to remain relatively low on the back of weak demand from the manufacturing slowdown in China.
“The length of time for demand to pick up again is uncertain, perhaps as long as six to ten months.
“Imports of food and essential items will continue, but expect a weakening demand of non-essential items,” he said.
Wale said world price for oil has dropped to its lowest level in the last 18 years.
He said Government revenues expected to fall significantly.
“Government borrowing may increase to fund the emergency costs.
“Government budget to be reprioritized,” he said.
As such, Wale said Government to urge banks to grant loan repayment holidays, at the very least, and to consider reducing lending interest rates.
“Government must address the need for a stimulus package.
“SIEA should be required by the Prime Minister to immediately suspend disconnections, and reduce tariffs by at least 30% for 3 months,” he said.
Wale said Solomon Water should immediately suspend disconnections.
In addition, he said the Prime Minister should deliver emergency orders using clear, simple messaging from government in simple Pijin.
Wale said food security is paramount.
“Vietnam has closed exports. 90% of rice is imported from Vietnam.
“Rice should be rationed, if insufficient stock levels,” he said.
Wale said the supply of local food produce may need to be nationalized, & distribution coordinated.
He said food prices to be kept very low or subsidized.