Foreign investment key for Solomons: Sogavare
Solomons PM keen on boosting foreign investment
The new Solomon Islands government is expected to release its policy statement at the end of the month which will layout its plans for the country over next four years.
Some of the possible areas of focus hinted on during the first sitting of the new parliament included a shift to state governance, putting more emphasis on tertiary education and strengthening national unity in the country.
Our reporter Koroi Hawkins spoke with Prime Minister Sogavare in Honiara about the course his government is charting.
MANASSEH SOGAVARE: I think the problems of the country and what to address is basically known to all the governments that have held the reign of power. Better living for the people of course, the continual improvement of the delivery of essential services to our people. The livelihoods of our people, you know the majority of whom are living in the rural areas, 85 percent we are told by the statistics. So that will basically continue to be the focus of any government that comes to power. But the major challenges, infrastructure development will continue to be a major issue for us. Attracting foreign investment into the country will continue to be a major, major strategy. All of course toward the main, the overall objective of striving towards economic independence for Solomon Islands. The strength of the country is there, we have resources, natural resources that are there untapped. Tourism, agriculture, fisheries those are areas that we can look to. Of course strategically approaching development, moving wealth from non-sustainable areas like logging to sustainable areas. Mining which is non-renewable to more sustainable areas. Once you develop the wealth there has to be strategic approach to move that wealth to the areas that are more sustainable. So it is a huge challenge for us as a nation but as I said, how exactly we will tackle some of these issues will be very much guided by the joint policy statement of the group which is yet to be produced.
KOROI HAWKINS: The only operating mine, Gold Ridge Mine is closed at the moment. Is that a particular area of concern, is that something the government will be focusing on?
MS: Well short term it is an immediate concern. Of course because it contributes to a great chunk of our GDP, but as I said the strength of our country lies in other areas. Agriculture, fisheries, tourism those areas that we can quickly focus our attention in.
KH: On a related issue some political commentators and academics have commented on your speech on the steps of parliament where you said there are emerging, emerging partners in the region or new growth or people out there and they've gone on and made assumptions that you might be referring to a move from Taiwan to China. Is there any fact in that assumption?
MS: Obviously when comments like that are made people will jump to that conclusion, I don't blame them but as I said it will have to be a collective decision if we have to make some decisions along that line. But as I said our first priority, our first priority of this government is to attract investment, trade and that we can, we can go about doing it without affecting our diplomatic relations and I want to assure our traditional partners that that's the approach that we'll be taking.
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