BY ALEX DADAMU
THERE is a sense in which people are looking at the stimulus package with great expectation.
Dr. Transform Aqorau has stated that when all is done and dusted and the world health and economy is stabilized – we should not expect for one moment that the stimulus package will bring us back to the usual state-centric based extraction of our natural resources.
Dr. Transform Aqorau was replying to Sunday Isle’s questions on ‘addressing the economic impacts COVID-19 has caused on the Economy of Solomon Islands, what should be the main priority of the country in 2021’.
“I spoke about this before the economic stimulus package was announced last year. What we cannot go back to is the “business as usual” way in which the public services are offered, our health systems are administered, and our extractive industry is managed.
“If we are going to build our agricultural economy, if we are going to build a restorative economy, a smart economy that embraces communications technology then we must first and foremost institute reforms to the governance and institutional structures surrounding the exploitation of our natural resources,” Dr. Transform said.
He insisted that tax reforms must be instituted – that are appropriate to a developing economy like the Solomon Islands using the country’s accountants, business, and financial advisers who know the business climate in the Solomon Islands.
“We must aim to become more self-reliant, by supporting our manufacturing industries, and convert some of the root crops that we grow here into import substitutes, like cassava and taro flour,” Dr. Transform insisted.
He furthered that if we are going to export food crops like cassava and taro, then internally – farmers should be organized under a cooperative in which they have to be members before they can export; so that our agriculture is developed on a scale. Externally – private-public sector partnerships should be developed with retail supermarket chains and or food processors overseas.
Dr. Transform also pointed out that the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) is going to be based on $120 million issued as development bonds, but the broader challenge faced is to build on this particular time and space to undertake some far-reaching reforms to the country’s economy.
Dr. Transform Aqorau is CEO, iTuna Intel, and Founding Director, Pacific Catalyst, and a legal adviser to the Marshall Islands. He is the former CEO of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Office.