The team which came to Solomon Islands on a mission to review the country’s economic reform progress paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister today and briefed him on its findings.
Leading the mission is Hoe EE Khor, Deputy Director of Asia Pacific and Patrizia Tumbarello, Unit Chief of Small States Unit of the Asia and Pacific Department.
In a brief presentation to the Prime Minister Khop said, “We are pleased to inform you that Solomon Islands foreign currency reserves is one of the strongest in the Pacific Islands region and this is indicative of Solomon Islands strong economic performance and effective macro-economic management policy.”
This position is accentuated by the low international financial lending level, which means Solomon Islands has the lowest debt in the Pacific Islands region.
The IMF Team advised that it would be good for Solomon Islands to maintain its strong level of foreign currency reserves, adding that being a least indebted country, Solomon Islands has room to maneuver in terms of securing loans through which it can finance greater investment that will grow the economy further.
The Prime Minister in turn welcomed the positive economic findings, stating that the Democratic Coalition for Change Government is committed to further strengthen Solomon Islands economy and ensure that the country maintains its strong level foreign currency reserves in the immediate future.
Prime Minister Sogavare said the proposed anti-corruption legislation is part of the DCC Government’s move to restore public trust and confidence in the government and ensure the efficient delivery of services by government institutions, remains the top most priority for the government in the ensuing years.
The group also expressed appreciation for the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s move to strengthen the country’s governance institutions and made reference to the anti-corruption legislation which the Government is determined to introduce during the first sitting of Parliament this year.
It also noted with a great deal of interest the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s decision to allocate increased funding for rural development through Members of Parliament.
On the issue funding allocation for rural development through MPs, the Prime Minister said the DCC Government is looking at ways to ensure stringent check-and-balance mechanism is put in place to strengthen use of and accountability for the use of these funding.
“We are looking at improving the legislation governing this funding and I appeal to IMF for assistance in this area,” he added.
The Prime Minister also said the government intends to allocate $1-Million (US$123,000) from the annual allocation of rural constituency development fund for each constituency for women in the hope that some of these funding will assist women and young girls to start family income-generation projects in the villages.
“These women should be identified and encouraged to join the small but growing number of rural women who have become members of the financial inclusion programme, which IMF is funding in-country. It’s a great way of financially empowering women,” he said.
Both parties made a firm commitment to strengthen partnerships in the next phase of IMF assistance to the DCC Government. The IMF Mission Team Leader assured the Prime Minister that the IMF Fiji Office is ready to provide immediate advisory assistance should the Government require.