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Solomon Islands has spent the last 40 years in the wilderness according to its prime minister Rick Hou.
Speaking to the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation in a recent podcast Hou said the fact that ordinary Solomon Islanders have not benefited from the economic growth the country has enjoyed over the last four decades since gaining independence from Britain poses serious questions.
“Yes the economy has grown but why is it not producing the jobs? Why is it not producing the necessary classroom spaces? Why are we short of money for scholarships and the like?” Hou said.
Hou told the SIBC that the Solomon Islands' economy was expected to grow by three percent this year, which by global standards is quite healthy.
But he said in Solomon Islands' context high inflation and population growth cancel out any potential growth benefits.
“We are short of money for almost everything. So there has to be some way of addressing this,” he said.
The Prime Minister believes if Solomon Islands is to break out of a cycle of 'running on the spot' it needs to stop exporting raw materials and start processing them and also start investing more in agriculture and tourism.
“We don't need to think of any other schemes. Just address these things. This is crops or products where every dollar you spend gets into the hands of rural households immediately.
“This is good for income, it is good for development, good for foreign exchange, good for government revenue, good for the family, good for the economy, good for the country,” Hou said.
But the Prime Minister said the country's most important resource, its people, had lost sight of what it means to be a Solomon Islander, "where everybody is not only willing but proud to serve their country”.
“Do not think if you are a fisherman that you are not serving your country? Or if you are working in the garden planting your yams or your cassava don't think you are just doing that for your family. No you are serving this country by doing this activity. It is value. It is productivity. That is what we want,” Hou said.
“And of course, that call of course comes to us decision makers it is really critical that we make those important decisions,” he said.
SOURCE: SIBC/RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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