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L-R… Prime Minister Rick Hou, Cabinet task force chairman Hon Steven Abana, HHC Mayor Andrew Mua and Under-Secretary for the MEHRD Education Authority Ambrose Malefoasi during the signing of the MOU on Monday at the PMO conference room.
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2023 Pacific Games MOU signed

BY BARNABAS MANEBONA

PROGRESS has been made with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) yesterday between the Government and key stakeholders to secure land for the construction of facilities to host the Games in 2023.

Attending the MOU yesterday at the Cabinet Room were stakeholder representatives from Honiara City Council, the Ministry of Education, SIFF, USP, National Council of Women, St Joseph’s Tenaru School, King George VI School and the Solomon Islands Christian Association.

Representatives from the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) whose grounds have been identified as primes site for the main sporting stadium were not present during the signing yesterday due to other reasons but are confirmed to sign the documents today.

In thanking stakeholders, Hon Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela said the MOU signing is a very important milestone in the country’s preparation to host the 2023 Pacific Games.

“The government sees the project as a national project and not the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Prime Minister Office project,” reminded the Prime Minister.

“The project covers all the sectors of the economy of Solomon Islands. We are talking about food security, transport, tourism, education, the airlines and every other sector is being covered. This is why it is a very important project.

“Therefore all the ministries and agencies, government bodies including everyone must play their role in this project.

“Our government now sees that we have reached a point in this project of no turning back as we must continue with it. Turning back is not an option.

“The seriousness of this project has seen the Caucus and Cabinet appointing a Sub-committee. This is showing how much emphasis is being put into the project.

“In fact, the government is considering establishing a ministry of its own and a Minister purposely for the upcoming games.

“I do not know what the government of 2019 will be doing but it is a very serious consideration that has come to the Cabinet to do it in which they do not have the time making the decision to appoint a sub-committee to drive this project,” he said.

The Prime Minister also elaborated that countries who host these types of games already have facilities when they are at the bidding stage and urges the sub-committee that they do not have the luxury of time.

“This is why we have to urge everyone to quickly come together to address this project,” said the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister explained that when the concept of the games came up in Parliament, an important principle the Parliament was very happy with was the concept of using and developing existing facilities owned by existing institutions and agencies to make this happen.

“There is a lot reasons but there are two important ones. One important one is when upgrading existing facilities the costs will be cheaper,” said the PM.

“Second is with the idea of establishing facilities within institutions and agencies lands. The problem the South Pacific has is when you have a grand stadium there will be additional problems such as how to use them and maintain them.

PM Houenipwela said another important thing for the signing is the three parts that are important to these games.

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“This MOU signing today is a very important significant milestone in assuring the government’s commitment in hosting the games.

“One of course is the government. We had side Cabinet meetings and everyone is very concerned having said to ourselves that this is a national project.

“The second part I am happy of is assuring the Pacific Games Council on our commitment.

“Third part is the money we will be asking aid donors to support the upcoming games because the government does not have any money to fund it.

“We have to reach a milestone to assure the people we will be asking to help fund this project.

“Raising money for the project will be on the government side. There are many non-traditional partners who are willing to help directly inside this project but it is up to us to stitch the project together.

“I understand there are seven or eight venues for twenty-three or twenty-four sports in which we need to stitch these projects together so that when I travel overseas, I can showcase too on the current stage of development we are in our preparation,” he said.

The responsibility of the 2023 Pacific Games is now re-assigned to the Prime Minister’s Office and means that the Prime Minister is the Minister now responsible for reporting the 2023 Pacific Games progress to Parliament.

Meanwhile Chairman of the 2023 PG Cabinet Sub-committee and MP for Fataleka Hon Steve Abana also explained that the idea that Caucas and the Cabinet has come with is for the sub-committee to work alongside and enhance the work of the taskforce in some areas that needs pushing in assistance.

L-R… Prime Minister Rick Hou, Cabinet task force chairman Hon Steven Abana, HHC Mayor Andrew Mua and Under-Secretary for the MEHRD Education Authority Ambrose Malefoasi during the signing of the MOU on Monday at the PMO conference room.

“I am very humbled indeed for the Prime Minister on your behalf and the taskforce and my team especially for the stakeholders to come forward during the past six to seven weeks for their concerted effort for us to work together to consul, agree and disagree leading to the signing of the MOU,” said the Chairman.

“The signing of the MOU paves the way forward for the next step. As of tomorrow for the next two weeks is the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that should bind individual stakeholders with the government in terms of moving forward especially with the lands they own.”

“It is not an easy task. This is something that we need to sit down and understand each other and then move on forward. As of tomorrow (today) we will start working on the MOA’s.

“This is a project for the country and we are preparing for our regional family who will be visiting us within the next four to five years time.”

Hon Abana also assured the Prime Minister that they are going to prepare drafts and estimates for him to take with him when travelling to Japan and Taiwan during his next visit to his counterparts.

“It is not easy, we have some drafts and estimates and we are looking at it so that you can reach a figure when you have dialogues with your counterparts. This is the next step we will be moving forward on as well.”

The Chairman of the Cabinet Sub-committee said he is looking forward to ongoing consultations and their efforts to see the project going through.

Stakeholder’s representatives yesterday also expressed their happiness for the MOU in which they said they are looking forward to more continuous interaction in collaboration with the Sub-committee in planning, designing and handling issues that might pose risk to the journey up to 2023.

Honiara City Council’s Mayor Hon Andrew Mua on behalf of the good citizens of Honiara thanked the government for bringing the games to Honiara City.

“People of Honiara are looking forward for the 2023 games and are prepared to work with the National Government and the task force to make sure that the 2023 Pacific Games will be a successful event,” said Hon Mua.

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