Gov’t urged to prioritise agriculture in creating healthy economy

Hon Douglas Ete giving his keynote remarks during the Ribbon cutting ceremony at Vura Community High School Compound
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By Gary Hatigeva

THE Solomon Islands government has been urged to step up efforts to accelerate the country’s path to prosperity, inclusive growth and decent jobs-creation by moving from commitments to action.

Member of Parliament for East Honiara and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said despite the budget cuts, agriculture should be its top development agenda as an economic driver for inclusive and sustainable development and urged concrete action to transform the sector.

He said after securing political, policy, and financial commitments, the government now needs to harness this surge of support for agriculture and ensure it creates decent jobs and drives economic growth across the country.

Mr Douglas Ete shared this when interviewed after one of the PAC sessions yesterday where matters of direct impacts to the economy were raised and issues affecting all sectors in the country, by the delegation from the Central Bank of Solomon Islands and World Bank.

Meanwhile the PAC Chair suggested that in Solomon Islands, private sector actors, donors and development partners need to work together to improve the agriculture sector, being one of the major back bone of the country and highlighted that this is the path to Solomons’ prosperity.

He said the Central Bank has raised the fact that production of cocoa, apiary sector, honey bee, and coconut have all depleted and that was the view that came out from the economic overview report 2018.

He explained that in the case of Apiary being depleted is because of the bromate, it has not been tackled properly, something Ministry officials confirmed when contacted, that the government has worked on it.

He added that last year cocoa also went down to around 4500 metric tonnes, but with the policy of the government, agricultural sector is basically the back bone of this country.

“And in my view, this is one of the most important sectors that should be bolstered and has to have the reflection in the budget and I encourage the government to do so in order to bolster our productive economy as a whole.”

He further added that budget cut has always been like this in the past for a number of years however, he encouraged the ministry of agriculture especially the government in general, to see that these productive sectors are important for the productivity of the country.

“True, the budget has been slashed affecting all key priority areas including that of the agriculture ministry, but the government can still deliver if they work within their limitations, however, in this case, all that has to have the reflection in the budget and I encourage the government to do so in order to bolster our productive economy as a whole,” the PAC Chairman stressed.

He concluded that as such he sees the money projected in this year’s budget has been sliced and therefore suggested that ministry prepare a supplementary bill to ensure all key areas within this sector is funded and that he is confident will certainly bolster the status of the country’s economy.