SOLOMON Islands is scheduled to graduate from the category of Least Developed Country (LDC) by 2024.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare highlighted during his 43rd Independence Address on Wednesday this week.
The Prime Minister said while LDC graduation has potential benefits such as a heightened sense of national progress that accompanies a move out of the lowest rung of the development ladder, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected LDC’s and Small Island Developing States.
“Solomon Islands is already facing deep economic contractions and suffering the socio economic consequences of lockdowns and travel restrictions. There are likely serious consequences on our development trajectories,” he said.
The Prime Minister said there is also the risk of future regress in graduation eligibility.
Prime Minister Sogavare said financing needs will be difficult to cover and likely to widen poverty gaps and make achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and leaving no one behind more difficult.
As such, he said it might be necessary to reconsider a delayed LDC graduation.
“The Government is undertaking further analysis and using recent results of a few studies on the socio- economic impacts of COVID-19 to guide discussion on the issue of LDC graduation,” he said.
Prime Minister Sogavare said it is important to ensure a smooth transition is crucial.
The Prime Minister said smooth transition implies that the loss of international development partner support measures and preferential treatment granted by the fact that SI is an LDC should not harm our countries development progress.
“The smooth transition strategy should also outline the direction to ensure the transition builds from existing plans and strategies, bridge gaps within economic growth sectors that would also contribute to improve the social sectors of the country,” he said.
He said it should also be more innovative to accommodate changes of the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theme for this year’s independence is “Our Country, Our Children, Our Future: A resilient, peaceful and united Solomon Islands”.