BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
THE Government of the Solomon Islands values the development outcomes stipulated under the Millennium Challenge Corporation Solomon Islands Threshold Program.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation -Solomon Islands Threshold Program (MCC-SITHP) is a four-year $20 million grant investment developed and implemented in partnership between the Government of Solomon Islands and the U.S. Government through its Millennium Challenge Corporation.
The partnership agreement was signed in 2022 and is currently working to increase economic opportunity for Solomon Islanders through investing in sustainable forestry practices and its tourism sectors. The grant funds are provided on behalf of the American people and are not loans our partners need to repay. Rather, they are investments in economic growth designed to enhance opportunities for the people of the Solomon Islands.
Speaking in a media conference held at the Heritage Park Hotel on May 19, Minister of National Planning and Development Coordination, Honourable Rexon Ramofafia said Solomon Island qualify for accessing this program way back in the year 2019, which covered two main areas based on the need of the country in the sector of forestry and Tourism.
“This is important to us as a country in addressing areas that can help in terms of investment and growth. The primary objective of the government is to make sure this threshold program is impacting the lives of our people, especially in areas that are important in terms of forest management and also to help in terms of land that we can access for tourism investment.
“On that note, on behalf of the government and people of Solomon Islands I would like to acknowledge the people and Government of United States,’’ Minister Rexon Ramofafia told local journalists.
The MCC-Solomon Islands Threshold Program aims to generate more reliable, sustainable benefits from the country’s natural resources by reducing the negative environmental impacts of logging, increasing revenues from forestry production, benefiting local communities, and developing a regulatory framework that promotes a greater balance between utilizing forests for both logging and non-logging purposes.
Likewise, the Vice President of the Department of Policy and Evaluation at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Ms Alicia Philips Mandaville acknowledges the Government of Solomon Islands for the gracious hosting and active participation and engagement and the implementation of this threshold program.
“I am delighted to be here in person alongside the Minister and Permanent Secretary of National Planning and Development Coordination to be able to talk about the progress we have in the Solomon Islands MCC threshold program,” she said.
Ms. Mandaville said the MCC-SI Threshold Program is an independent part of the United States Government with a singular mission to invest that reducing poverty through economic growth.
She added that they want to demonstrate a real commitment to democratic governments, to economic freedom to making investments in their population.
“The MCC fund is provided on behalf of the American people and they are grants, not loans. These grants are investments aimed at economic growth that is designed to enhance opportunities for the people of Solomon Islands,’’ Ms. Mandaville said.
She said the program has two projects, the forest value enhancement projects and the accessing land for tourism investment facilitation project.
“The accessing land for tourism investment facilitation project aims to support land access and investment to enhanced opportunities for Solomon Islanders in the tourism sector, a sector which has serious potential for economic growth.
“The forest value enhancement project seeks to generate more reliable sustainable benefits through Solomon Islands forestry resources and enhancing community benefit from forest protection.
“In doing so, it improves the balance of forest activity and protecting valuable natural resources,’’ she said.
She said the program already plans to implement the project in the Western province and is looking to expand to additional provinces.
“We are grateful to the Solomon Islands government for playing a key role in creating an enabling environment that supports investment in forest carbon projects,’’ the Vice President of the Department of Policy and Evaluation at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) said.