By EDDIE OSIFELO
PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has highlighted three key areas that his government must address as a nation together with Solomon Islands’ genuine partners.
He voiced this at a banquet lunch at Mendana yesterday in which Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison was the main guest.
The three areas include:
Firstly, they cannot continue the ‘business-as-usual’ approach to development.
“We must invest in and unlock the key development constraints of all our provinces – but especially in our larger provinces such as Malaita, Guadalcanal and Western that cover about 70 [percent] of our population and 37 of our constituencies, and ultimately all 50 constituencies.
“Addressing these key priorities holds the key to future peace and security of this nation. It will set the foundation that will help our people to not revert to the kinds of challenges that led to the unrest that needed the intervention of RAMSI to get us out of,” he said.
Secondly, Sogavare said to achieve the vision embodied in the first point which aims to achieve a holistic development of the country, Solomon Islands must embark on an innovative economic development paradigm that can transform the economic development potential in their provinces by unlocking the key development constraints through bold and innovative investments aimed at linking the totality of all their constituencies, all their provinces and all their population together and with the outside world;
Thirdly, Sogavare said it follows that to achieve the above, Solomon Islands must look to establish new genuine, durable and transformative relationship with their key partners that go beyond what is possible or is provided for under current relationships.
Sogavare said in other words, they are not simply looking for more of the same, nor are they looking at incremental approaches.
“We are looking at long-term transformative partnership that will unlock multiple development constraints on the one hand, but more importantly, an investment paradigm that provides the foundation for long-term peace and security in the country that embodies a more balanced development paradigm among our provinces.
“The developmental and geopolitical challenges facing small island countries and in particular the Solomon Islands require some ‘out-of-the-box thinking on strategic investments’ that will help my government demonstrate to our rural people, our constituencies and our provinces that their long-held development priorities are finally being addressed, and at a pace that will transform economic participation and growth,” he said.
“My government must focus on unlocking investment opportunities in all our provinces through better roads infrastructure around the main islands.
These include more reliable and affordable ‘virtual sea-highways’ that link their main trading ports; strategic investments on major economic infrastructure such as the country’s 3rd international seaport in Malaita – the Bina Harbour inclusive of the new Bina Harbour fish processing facility; the unlocking of a potential major oil-palm development project at Malaita’s Aluta basin through an improved road extension to Bina harbour international seaport for export; the extension of the road around Guadalcanal to drive greater economic participation of Guadalcanal people; the extension of the Noro-Munda road to Seghe, New Georgia; the relocation of the commercial international seaport in Honiara to a location more suited to cater for the future growth in Honiara; the relocation of the oil terminals to more appropriate locations; the transformation of the country’s capital city and provincial capitals.
The government realised this after the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has restored law and order in 2003 following the conflict on Guadalcanal.