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THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
Address by the Honourable Prime Minister,
Hon. Manasseh Damukana Sogavare, MP
Wednesday July 7th 2021 43rd INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS
“OUR COUNTRY, OUR CHILDREN, OUR FUTURE: A Resilient, peaceful and united Solomon Islands”
Governor General of Solomon Islands His Excellency, Sir David Vunagi and Lady Vunagi;
Hon. Speaker of Parliament –Hon. Patterson Oti;
Hon. Chief Justice –Sir Albert Rocky Palmer;
Deputy Prime Minister –Hon. Manasseh Maelanga, MP;
Minister of Crowns;
Leader of the official Opposition –Hon. Matthew Wale, MP;
Leaders of the Independents- Hon. John Dean Kuku, MP;
Members of Parliament;
Constitutional Post Holder;
Commissioner of Police;
Provincial Premiers and Members of Provincial Assemblies;
Mayor of Honiara City –Councillor Siapu;
Heads of Diplomatic Corps;
Representatives of our Development Partners;
Heads of Statutory Organizations:
Representative of Solomon Islands Christian Association; Church Leaders and Clergies;
Chairman, Executive, and Members of the Solomon Islands Chambers of Commerce and Industries;
Representatives of Civil Society and Community –Based Organisation;
Senior Government Officials;
Traditional Chiefs and Community Leaders;
Fellow Solomon Islanders and Friends of Solomon Islands;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
To God be the Glory great things He has done and continues to do.
Good morning Solomon Islands and Happy 43rd Independence Anniversary celebrations. Today Solomon Islands across the this beloved nation of ours are celebrating this significant occasion, commemorating the day we obtained our Independence .I would also like to acknowledge and Thank Solomon Islanders living in other countries who are also celebrating our 43rd Independence Anniversary with us.
Greetings to those listening and watching inform our hospitals including those who are incarcerated, our thoughts and prayers are with you. I would also like to extend my greeting to those who are currently under quarantine in our quarantine stations.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, this is my third independence address to our beloved nation since the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement came into power in 2019.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge our 3000 plus student athletes participating in the inaugural National Secondary School Games here in Honiara .I was truly privileged to be accorded the honour to officially open the National Secondary School Games last week.
Sport and National Unity
That said I would like to re-iterate what I said during the opening of the National Secondary School Games, (I quote) “Youths are the building blocks of any country, the backbone of nation building .You are the future of this great country and I have great trust and confidence in your ability to lead this country when your time comes…One of sports main features is teamwork, which helps to instil each of us the importance of working together for a common goal. There is no “I” in TEAM”.As Mia Hamm the famous female American soccer player once said “I am a member of a team and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not individual, is the ultimate champion “Dear Students, in this games the school you represent is your team .But in life ,this country ,Solomon Islands is OUR TEAM.As Nelson Mandela said “ Sports has the power to change the world .It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youths in a Language they understanding .Sport can create hope where once there was only despair” (End quote)
I humbly call on all our students ‘athletes to be ambassador of peace and unity in our country .You are children of our beloved country Solomon Islands, you are our future, you are Solomon Islands. You are an integral part of our journey as a country into the future .As you complete in your final day of competition I want to wish you all the best.
Pacific Games 2023
As you all know we will be hosting the Pacific Games 2023.I have been told that the student’s athletes who participated in the National Secondary Games were very impressive, and I am very happy to hear this .I encourage you all to keep on training and set your aim high. Come 2023 some of you will be representing our country in the Pacific Games .This is an opportunity for you to participate and to do yourself and our country proud by winning .We have set ourselves a target of 40 gold medals and it would indeed be an achievement if we hit that target.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, the Government has built infrastructure for these games with the help of our bilateral partners. These sports infrastructure are an investment for our present and future athletes .Construction of these infrastructure is going on really well and deliver on time .I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government and people of Peoples Republic of China, the Government and people of Indonesia and the Government and people of Australia for their assistance in building these sports infrastructures.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, infrastructure is an important enabler of development. Investments in infrastructures generate multipliers effects in other sectors and through-out the economy. Infrastructure links markets and services, supports and stimulates economic activities in rural areas and bring about improvements in the livelihoods of our people. Infrastructure Developments remains an important priority of the Government .The Government remains committed to progressing key games changing infrastructure initiatives that have the potential to drive transformative change and boost economic and social development.
In my independence Address in 2019 I announced the National Transport Core Initiative .Allow me to refresh our memory of what I said on 7th July 2019.
“(I quote)…the geographical distribution of our islands ‘calls for innovative approaches to infrastructure planning and development that not only address social and economic constraints but one that demonstrates inclusivity and a whole of country focus so that no single province is left behind ‘.We need to invest in infrastructure that link our people in remote areas to Urban centres in province and to Honiara. We need to invest in a network of roads, bridges, wharves and airports to link all provinces o market and drive our economy as started in the Townsville Peace Agreement that was signed almost 20 years ago but as yet unfulfilled.
Putting in place a policy platform aimed at addressing the unmet development aspirations of our provinces over a defined period is a top priority for the DCGA .As part of its comprehensive policy agenda over the next four years, the DCGA is working on an innovative initiative that will to link up to 74% of the country’s population and 37 constituencies in its first phrase and all 50 constituency and 100 percent of our population at the completion of its second phase .This initiative is currently known as the Solomon Islands Sea and Roads Initiative or the National Transport Core …So, the question is … “ is this another veiled promises? Will it happen this time? What is so different now that this will actually be delivered? How can we be sure it is not just another lip service? (End of quote).
Fellow Solomon Islanders, despite the COVID19 global pandemic we have made some progress on this front .I am glad to update you all that a concept study desktop analysis of the National Transport Core Initiative was undertaken .The concept study assessed the technical ,economic ,environment and social viability of the National Transport Core Initiative.
The key finding were:
•First ,the overall National Transport Core Initiative will generate significant benefits and to deliver it, the costs would be substantial .The overall capital investment of the configuration is estimate at US$855m,with 85% of the total costs being for roads and bridges ,While 6% relates to port infrastructure and 9% associated with the vessels.
•Second, the domestic shipping environment in Solomon Islands is sub-optimal and unsafe, and as such, the National Transport Core Initiative objectives of consolidating inter-island transport would improve this situation.
•Third ,there is potential for private sector participate ,in the ownership ,construction ,operation and maintenance for both port infrastructure and vessels .The vessels servicing the sea bridge could be delivered via a public-private partnership
•Fourth, National Transport Core Initiatives benefits were derived from vessel operating cost reductions, travel time savings, reduced damage and loss of freight, generated traffic, travel safety benefits, health benefits and associated lowered mortality rates.
•Fifth, the overall program will generate significant benefits to the populations of Malaita, Guadalcanal and New Georgia through the provision of upgraded roads and sea bridges. It will lower both import and export costs for agriculture producers and consumers within the islands.
•Sixth, the economic impact assessment found that the introduction of National Transport Core Initiative could lead to an increased in agricultural production and reductions in the loss or damage of cargo .These impacts could translate to an increase in the value of production across the target provinces estimated at $6.4million per year or equivalent to 2747 rural jobs.
•Seventh, the reduction in the vessel and overload transportation costs could have a flow through impact on the costs of goods for purchase, assuming that all cost savings are passed through the market to the end customer. These savings would be significant in Malaita and Western provinces, estimate at about 9.9% and 86% of income respectively.
•Eighth, the NTCI will contribute to reductions in both cost and time, and therefore has the potential to reduce some of the barriers to accessing social services such as health and education .Fellow Solomon Islanders, the next step is to do a study which would cover.
•Hinterland assessment and traffic surveys, virtual sea-bridge ownerships and operating entity;
•Field engineering investigations and validation of desktop engineering designs;
•Field consultations with selected communities ;
•Revalidation of economic assessment and
•Update of the National Transport Core Initiative concept.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, the Solomon Islands Government and the Australia Government has just signed a Subsidiary Agreement worth $AUD250million for 10 years under the broader Solomon Islands infrastructure Program, Two components of the National Transport Core Initiative have been taken up as part of the start- up work- plan under this agreement .These are the technical preparatory work on the Bina Harbour Project and the planned Noro Port redevelopment project that would potentially leverage additional financing from the Australian
Infrastructure investment Financing Facility (AIFFP).
The Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program initial start-up -work-plan will include activities aimed at strengthening infrastructure policy, planning and management and infrastructure financing and delivery .Key infrastructure policy work will include support for the finalization of the Solomon Islands Infrastructure Management Bill and Building Codes .Work is also being done to establishment a National Infrastructure Development Authority. Initial baseline gathering work for the infrastructure sector will lead to a repository of infrastructure information, materials and knowledge for Solomon Islands.
Leased Development Countries (LDC) Graduation
Solomon Islands is scheduled to graduate from the category of LDC by 2024. While LDC graduation has potential benefits such as a heightened sense of national progress that accompanies a move out of the lowest rung of the development ladder, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected LDC’s and Small Island Developing State .Solomon Islands is already facing deep economic contractions suffering the socio economic consequence on our development trajectories .There is also the risk of future regress in graduation eligibility .Financing needs will be difficult to cover and also likely to widen poverty gaps and makes achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and leaving no one behind more difficult.
As such, it might be necessary to reconsider a delayed LDC graduation .The Government is undertaking further analysis and using recent results of a few studies on the socio –economic impacts of COVID19 to guide discussion on the issue of LDC graduation.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, ensuring a smooth transition is crucial. Smooth transition implies that the loss of international development partner support measures and preferential granted by the fact that SI is an LDC should not harm our countries development progress. The smooth transition strategy should also outlined the direction to ensure the transition builds from existing plans and strategies ,bridge gaps within economic growth sectors that would also contribute to improve the social sectors of the country .It also should be more innovative to accommodate changes of the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attendance to Provincial 2nd Appointed Day
Fellow Solomon Islanders, I have only returned from Tulagi last week where I attended the Central Islands province 2nd Appointed Day .Prior to that I have also attended 2nd Appointed Day of Choiseul, Isabel, and Temotu Province .My attendance to the 2nd Appointed Days in our Provinces is manifestation of my desire to decentralise and ensure appropriate development programmes are focussed throughout our country. I must say that I witnessed first –hand how most of our provinces are being neglected over the years .This is something’s that this Government will work hard to address .I have announced that this government will increase Provincial Capacity Development Fund (PCDF)in next year’s budget . I have also assured the Provincial Governments that we will review the Provincial Government Act 1997 to give more devolved functions and powers to provinces.
During my attendance to the 2nd Appointed Day my message to our provinces was ‘National Unity ‘and I was extremely happy to see other Provincial Premier and Deputy Premiers attending these 2nd Appointed Days as well . I used the opportunity to remind our Provinces that the relationship between the Provincial Government and the National Government is governed by the Provincial Government Act. The Act clearly outlines the functions power of the provincial executive .All province must operate within the ambit of the Provincial Government Act.
Provincial governments as agents of the national government should aspire to initiate development and compliment the national government in service delivery.
The relationship between the national government and provincial government must be understood. Provincial Governments as agents to the national government must be at the forefront national development plans .Engaging on mere political rhetoric that have not bearing within the provincial governments mandate is but a demonstration of lack of understanding of our provincial government system. We must be united in our development aspirations. The country’s future hinges on understanding this relationship. Underestimating or ignoring the relationship would be putting the future of our country at risk .We are a country of diversity culture and languages ,however , we are all connected through history ,inter marriage ,custom and culture and Christianity .It is the responsibility of each Provincial Government to ensure the country remain strong and united ,and to that end I want thank all the Provinces who are agents of UNITY in our beloved country .
National Security and Defence
Fellow Solomon Islanders, prior to my trip to the Central Islands Province, I flew to the Shortland Islands to attend at the ground breaking ceremony of our new ‘Border and Patrol Boat Outpost ‘at Lofung.
I assured the people of Shortland Islands that apart from improved security benefits, the project once completed will bring economic and culture benefits that come from living at the border .People living along the border region share a border with a country that they are culturally connected to and cannot be stopped by relationships purely because of international rules.
I emphasised, the border outpost is NOT to stop the traditional border relations between Bougainville and Solomon Islands. The Traditional Border Crossing Agreement between Solomon Islands Government and Papua New Guinea still remains intact and respected .The border outpost is to ensure we all enjoy our border relations in a safe and regulated manner especially in this time of COVID-19.
Solomon Islands friendship with Australia is one that is not only built on trust, but one is that is cemented by our friendship and recognition of mutual understanding. WE are two nations not separated by the oceans, but joined by the waves of peace, cooperation, prosperity, and mutual respect.
I also paid tribute to the Famoa Council of Chiefs and the Famoa Trust Board for their commitment, vision and patience which resulted in the successful event.
Fellow Solomon Islanders ,I was also honoured to celebrate the commissioning of our new RSIPV Taro on 28th June .RSIPV Taro is the latest addition to our Guardian Class patrol boats joining RSIPV Gizo .My Government has requested the Australia Government to arm our patrol boats and they have agreed to do this . I am indeed pleased with the support that the Australia government has provide for us, especially in relation to our security.
On behalf of the government and my people of Solomon Islands, we acknowledge and thank the Australian Government for their continuing support and assistance to our RSIPV Maritime Division through our Defence Cooperation Program.
Partnership in development
Fellow Solomon Islanders ,two years ago on this very day I appealed to all Solomon Islanders to be partners in moving our beloved country forward .Our development aspirations can be realised through ,(I quote) “ a participatory and collective approach Involving all sectors of our communities including our customary landowners ,provincial governments, government ministries, and importantly our bilateral and multilateral partners .I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to our customary landowners to be part of the solution going forward .Please do not let land disputes stand in the ways of major national and provincial projects that will benefits all especially you the land and resource owners. Please help us help you.
To our development partners-bilateral and multilateral let me say this .Solomon Islands will not be where it is now without your commitment and your help .As we move forward ,I invite you all to be partners in the …I want to say thank you for your assistance over the years. I also ask you to be genuine I your partnership with us going forward, assisting and helping us achieve our development aspirations as articulated by our people .I invite you all work with us …to explore and agree a modus operandi that provide win-win outcomes for you and Solomon Islands and a partnerships that is underpinned by the principle of ‘sustainable and durable partnership’ that will accommodate our development aspirations within the next four years.” (End quote)
I want to urge and appeal to us all to become agents of change in our country .We all need to change our approach and mentality towards development .Disputing land is always a challenge to development. The Government must have land to build infrastructure that can enable wider participation of our people in the economy. We cannot continue to have land disputes and expert the Government to delivery services. We all need to work together to achieve this.
Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA).
Fellow Solomon Islanders, the Cabinets has endorsed and approved the CEMA revitalization and recapitalization strategy report and is now allocating financial and human resources to implement the strategy with the CEMA Board and Management by July 2021.This will enable CEMA to restart its trading activities in purchasing ,selling and exporting our local commodities by November 2021 .However ,land disputes is already a challenges ,therefore ,the Government will only open buying centers where there is no land disputes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the CEMA revitalization and recapitalization strategy will be for a seven –years period starting from 2021 to 2027 and it will require a total capital investment of SBD$77m by the Government that will be implemented in 3 phases over the seven –year period .The implementation will be done by the CEMA Board and Management with the support of the Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
These are challenging but exciting times as well. The global pandemic has tested our resolve and we have continued to demonstrate our resilience .The revitalization of CEMA is a testament of our resilience in the face of this pandemic. DCGA will ensure that CEMA is viable and expands its operation to all our rural farmers throughout our country .This government will continue to deliver on its policies by serving our people.
State of Public Emergency and COVID-19
Fellow Solomon Islanders, we are still under a state of public emergency .We must not be complacent and let our guards down. The COVID-19 virus is mutating and we must be vigilant .Our vaccination roll-out program is our weapon against fighting this virus .However, there are misinformation and lies that are propagated some of our people that is hampering our efforts to vaccinating our population. Spreading this false information is putting our country, our families and our children at risk .We must not succumb to such malicious lies .This Government is very conscious of the great powers it has under the Emergency Power Regulations, however, we are wary of using it. But if these lies continues to be disseminated then people who spread these lies will be charged.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, we are now opening up vaccination for all people above the age of 18. If you are not yet vaccinated, please go and get your jab. The situation in our neighbour Fiji is escalating and is truly worrying .The Delta variant in Fiji is very contagious .We have students in Fiji and we will be bringing them home soon. Therefore, it is imperative that we vaccinate ourselves to protect ourselves, our families and our country. We all have an individual and collective duty to protect our country .Let us discharge this duty by getting vaccinated.
When I delivered my Independence Address last year our economy was projected to contract by -4.9% .However, the measures we have put in place has seen the economy contracted by 3.6% at the end of 2020.Putting the economy back on track is a great challenge which needs a combined concerted efforts by the Government and the Private sector .The need to work together has never been greater than now .We owe it our country, people and future generations to ensure that our efforts to keep our economy afloat is strategic and inclusive. I would like to acknowledge and thank Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industries for being a reliable and valued partner with the Solomon Islands Government.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, this years has been an especially trying time for our country .We still have the global pandemic affecting the world .We entered uncharted waters when COVID-19 struck but by the Grace of Our Father in Heaven we managed to keep our children and country safe .It has not been easy but we have stood up to the challenge and persevered. I am exceptionally proud of you all for working together with the Government to ensure that this country remains safe .We are so fortunate that we do not have community transmission ,and for that I thank and praise God for that .
Allow me to thank each and every one of you, every father, mother, brother, sister, sons and daughters of our beloved nation for your continuous and unwavering support, belief ,commitment ,dedication and prayers .This Government is and will always be eternally grateful to you all. Tagio tumas lo ufala.
On behalf of our people and the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement I would like to say thank you to our public servants. The political government does not have the capacity to implement its policies, it only makes policies. It is the public service that implement policies .I will continue to impress upon you that you are the government in residence, the tip of the spear in implementing government policies .This country cannot move forward without your hard work, sacrifice and passion .Our children and country deserves the best out of you and nothing less .Please discharge your duties with integrity and humility.”
The private sector ,I understand that this is a very trying time .That fact is not lost this Government .Your role in propping up our economy is of paramount importance .You are the engine that drives our economy and this country is indebted to your contribution.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, we are now COVID-19 free for almost three months now, and that and for that we thank our front liners for putting their lives on the line to keep us safe. To our doctors, nurse, correctional service officers, police officers, immigration and custom officers, drivers, security personnel at quarantine centres, volunteers and everyone else who have contributed one way or the other, barava tagio true lo ufala.
To our bilateral and multi-lateral partners, I wish to thank you for your continuous support, especially during this global pandemic .You have indeed stepped up and assisted our country in unprecedented ways. We as a nation would like to register our gratitude .Tagio tumas.
To our churches, you are the shoulder on which we lean upon during these trying times .You are the moral compass of this country and your prayers and faith has indeed been a source of strength and inspiration. Your role in nation building is invaluable and appreciated.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, I call on us all to rise up and serve our country and people to the best of our abilities .I would like to paraphrase John F. Kennedy in saying, in your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our country and future .Since this country gained Independence ,each generation of Solomon Islanders has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty and unity .Now we are summoned again –not to go into battle –but a call to rise and serve our country despite the adversities that we face –a struggle against the common enemies of man: poverty ,disease and conflict.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, let me remind of our nation motto “To Lead Is to Serve”.
In the words of Walter Reuther, “there is no greater calling than to serve your fellow men. There is no greater contribution than to help the weak .There is no greater satisfaction than to have done it well”
We are truly blessed and fortunate to enjoy and live in a peaceful and tolerant country .We may not be where we want to be as a country but I thank Our Almighty Father in Heaven for his never ending love, guidance, protection and blessings. This country is a Christian country with strong conviction and faith, and it is in God that we put our faith in.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, I have faith in our country, our children and our future .We all want a resilience, peaceful and united Solomon Islands for our children and their children .It is our duty, not only as leaders but as parents to ensure that the country we leave to our children is one that is resilience, peaceful and united.
In closing, let me once again wish you all a Happy 43rd Anniversary celebrations on behalf of the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement.
Fellow Solomon Islanders, it is customary to recognise the contribution of individuals who unselfish contributed to the goods of society during Independence Day Celebrations through the Award of Independence Honours.
I now have the honour of announcing the recipient of the 2021, 43rd Independence Honours and Awards as follows
For Cross of Solomon Islands (CSI)
No. Nominee Award Citation
1.Pauline Boseto McNeil CSI
For services to national safety, health and community cohesion
2.Rex Faukona CSI
For services to the national Judiciary and the Justice sector
Solomon Islands medal
No. Nominee Award citation
1.Simon Wamela SIM (Silver)
For services to weather alert and safety data on voluntary basis and community safety
We are one people, We are one Nation, We are Solomon Islands.
I thank you all for your attention.
May God Bless Our Beloved Solomon Islands from Shore to Shore
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