Solomon Islands PM launches ambitious agenda for government | Pacific Beat

Solomon Islands PM launches ambitious agenda for government

Solomon Islands PM launches ambitious agenda for government

Updated 27 January 2015, 17:58 AEDT

Recently elected Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare has launched an ambitious agenda for his government, including programs to tackle corruption, boost economic growth and improve the way democracy works.

In a live broadcast to launch his policy framework on Tuesday, the prime minister detailed his priorities and programs for the next 4 years.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Manasseh Sogavare, Solomon Islands prime minister

GARRETT: Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation interrupted its programming to hand over to the master of ceremonies for the launch of Democratic Coalition for Change's much-anticipated policy framework.

MC: The fifty days that the prime minister announced in his maiden speech, and the fifty days that the Democratic Coalition for Change government promised to deliver, has finally arrived. Today as we come together. I would like to welcome all your excellencies, dignatories from far and wide.

GARRETT: National and international partners and stakeholders along with community groups were invited to attend the launch of the document containing Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's detailed plans for the next 4 years.

Mr Sogavare said he has a long agenda for improved governance, and he put public servants and others on notice that there would be zero-tolerance of poor management of government monies.

SOGAVARE: We have committed to strengthen our integrity institutions, including the Leadership Code Commission, Office of the Ombudsman and Parliamentary Entitlement committee. We are determined to fight corruption head-on and we would be inviting the relevant civil organisations to join us in this endeavour. A comprehensive national anti-corruption strategy will be developed and anti-corruption legislation will be enacted. And an Independent Commission Against Corruption will be established, all as essential elements of our determination to fight against corruption.

GARRETT: The Democratic Coalition for Change will put strong emphasis on rebuilding the economy. After floods last April, Solomon Islands has seen the closure of its only gold mine and economic growth at its lowest level since the global financial crisis. Mr Sogavare said while the approaches of parties within his coaltion may vary they are all "overwhelmingly convinced" that the economy needs a "bigger push" to achieve economic growth. The prime minister's goal is growth of more than 5 per cent a year. That is the level needed to maintain Solomon Islanders standards of living.

Mr Sogavare said his government would be flexible in responding to the challenges presented by global conditions. At home, he pledged to provide an enabling environment for economic goals to be met.

SOGAVARE: With declining economic activities in logging, and the uncertainty as to when mining activities will begin at the Gold Ridge, it is encumbent on my government that other productive players like the tourism industry, fisheries and agriculture, infrastructure, education and health and mediacal services are stimulated and supported to sustain growth

GARRETT: Despite the emphasis on public services and growth, Mr Sogavare acknowledged prudent fiscal management would be an unavoidable part of his governments economic program.

Political reform will also be a priority.

SOGAVARE: We are determined to pursue and continue the political reform agenda that started from the last government, which will include the review of the Political Parties Integrity Act and the strengthening of the electoral processes, as well as to search for an electoral system that is desirous by our people and a step further to deepend democratic values in Solomon Islands. We are also fully committed to continue the process of nation-healing and nation- building and to finally adopt federal system of government during the term of the DCC government.

GARRETT: In Melanesia, land is always a sensitive issue. Mr Sogavare believes recording and registering customary land will unleash economic potential for the country and benefits for landowners.

The prime minister says a major, long-term project to do this starts this year.

SOGAVARE: While we are set to begin this project from this year it is important that I make it clear that the approach to this project is not to force landowners to formally register their tribal land. While government is desirous to hasten the recording and registering of tribal land, the right of landowners to their tribal land will always be respected and guaranteed.

GARRETT: Mr Sogavare is one of Solomon Islands most experienced politicians and has served twice before as prime minister. He has not forgotten that strategies and plans are only as good as their implementation. The programs he outlined in his policy framework will be driven from within his office. Each government department will host a monitoring and evaluation committee to ensure they meet their targets.

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