By Gary Hatigeva
MAKE agriculture and tourism the priority sectors for infrastructure support and development to create more jobs.
Local and foreign economic experts, stakeholders, the government’s partners for development and other support sectors made this recommendation to the government who vows to boost the country’s economy into one that would be inclusive and felt by all in the form of more jobs and livelihood opportunities.
Earlier, reports had warned that the government would be dealing with a high unemployment rate by 2020, which would be detrimental to the economy, should it fail to put in place measures that would create more jobs this early.
Recommendation on these were also submitted to the government, which outlined tasks of economic development, human development and poverty reduction, justice and peace, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and good governance and anti-corruption.
As for the economic development aspect, they said that the government would be able to create thousands of jobs by 2020 if it adopted reforms that would boost the business environment, including that for agriculture and tourism.
The economic experts also highlighted an urgent need to remove barriers to business entries, especially in the area of interisland shipping to help ease food prices, they recommended.
In strongly battling for more support to agriculture and tourism, the economic experts consider these sectors as major job generators because of their forward and backward linkages.
They also recommended that government revisit critical laws relating to the governance and protection of these two important sectors.
To further boost agriculture and tourism, they suggested that the government increase its spending for infrastructure from the current projected percent to a more accommodating percent of the gross domestic product.
Meanwhile, on the human development and poverty reduction aspect, the economic experts recommended that government expand its programs on health, education and social protection, including the conditional cash transfer program.
They said the focus should be on disadvantaged groups such as out-of-school youths, indigenous people, persons with disabilities and more so, on the fast growing number of dropouts, and the public-private partnerships (PPP) should also be strengthened to address skills mismatch.
They added that even reforms in the justice system should also be undertaken, by introducing amendments to or replacing outdated laws, speeding up resolution of cases to clear backlogs that would decongest jails, and combating inefficiency and corruption in the judiciary.
But on peace efforts, they lauded the government for what was described as significant developments, to keep the RAMSI legacy and should also work hard to preserve the gains of the peace process by making the vulnerable people feel they are indeed part of the system.
On climate change adaptation and mitigation, the economic experts said the current government’s agenda has improved a lot and has been highly matched to international standards.
In the good governance and anti-corruption cluster, they recommended that the government “build and empower constituencies for reform that will demand for and support good governance while at the same time strengthen monitoring and evaluation mechanisms particularly on public financial management and performance management systems, and give special attention to governance reform and institution building efforts in the provincial settings”.
Experts however noted that they have recognised the fight against corruption in Solomon Islands, which is being waged with determination by the new government through its policy, but needs to be stamped.