By Gary Hatigeva
PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela has hit back at members of Parliament who spoke out against the government’s projects and the arrangement of deals they continue to make with development and donor partners.
The Prime Minister was responding to earlier statements made regarding the Tina Hydro and the Undersea Cable projects, which most of the statement suggested that with the way the government is handling all initial establishment programmes, they will end up with having the most talked about projects as just business as usual, with no impacts to the livelihood of the people and the country’s economy.
But when winding up all proceedings of the 2018 Budget and debates of Parliament’s first set of sittings for this year, Hou emphasised that the Tina Hydro and the undersea cable projects are not business as usual.
“Make no mistake as the Tina hydro is something new and not business as usual as it was alleged,” the Prime Minister said.
Hou stressed that the two major government projects have actually broken new grounds for Solomon Islands in many areas.
“In regard to the Tina hydro project for example, it has made it necessary for Solomon power to adapt new changes to their business model of the past decades or we will continue to lag behind our neighbouring countries.
“It is also through the Tina hydro, Solomon Islands would be demonstrating world’s best practice in community and landowner engagement and participation in development,” he said.
He added that through the Tina hydro project, the country will save millions in costs every year for the economy while at the same time, reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and meeting our international obligations.
He further stressed that by establishing these two projects will also demonstrate that Solomon Islands can attract genuine, recognised and quality investors with transparency and clean business practices instead of what he described to be, unknown or shady companies.
“They will show that Solomon Islands has the discipline and foresight to plan, develop and execute large scale viable infrastructure projects and that Solomon Islands is also mature enough to forego government equity, in the search for positive long-term economic outcomes.
“So if the member questioning and criticizing our development partners doesn’t know, this is what we are to gain from these projects and doing what he did is actually standing in and blocking the way for important projects like the Tina Hydro and the undersea cable projects.”
He however shrugged off suggestions that the government must continue to hold back when matters of national interests are under siege.
He said the negative contributors are trying to tell the government not to do anything, “but that is not an option for Solomon Islands”.