21 Jul 2004

Australia releases new report on Solomons economy

1:41 pm on 21 July 2004

A new report on the challenges facing the Solomon Islands economy says the quickest route to economic growth would be to improve the productive capacity and market access for the country's subsistence farmers.

The Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Economic Analytical Unit has produced a report called Solomon Islands: Rebuilding an Island Economy.

The foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says the report, which has also been sponsored by the mining company BHP Billiton, identifies the private sector as a key to growth and highlights some of the impediments facing businesses, such as costly infrastructure and lack of access to finance.

It advocates the sale of the country's airline, water supply system and power generator and the elimination of regulations stalling investment.

Mr Downer also says unless Solomon Islands slows down the speed at which it is harvesting its forests, they will be gone in 12 years.