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Solomon Islands economy shows positive signs, PM ambitious to address unemployment

Solomon Islands economy has been enjoying positive growth for the past several years, says Prime Minister Rick Hou.

The Prime Minister highlighted this, when speaking at the country’s 40th Independence celebration in Honiara, last Friday.

He said, that would have enhanced opportunities for business in areas such as infrastructure services, tourism development, sustainable forestry, agri-industry and fisheries.

“In recent years, except for a contraction in 2014 caused by devastating floods and the closure of Gold Ridge mine, it grew by 2.9% in 2015, 3.2% in 2016 and in 2017 of growth of 3.0% has been recorded.

“However, the strong momentum in 2017 is not expected to carry into 2018 and 2019, with GDP growth projected to be 3.5 percent in 2018 and 3.4 per cent in 2019.

“This is primarily due to the expected fall in the value of log exports and fishing activities,” said the Prime Minister.

He added, the Government is addressing this simmering risk to revenues and foreign exchange earnings.  

Prime Minister Hou said that, given the impact from the closure of Gold Ridge Mine, it is one of the main policy drivers of the Government to reopen Gold Ridge.

“After much discussion, I am more than hopeful that this will eventuate with the first gold pour in 2019,” he said.

Meanwhile, Houenipwela cautioned the nation on high rate of youth unemployment in the country and unveils important steps to address the problem.

PM said our youth, which comprise more than 50 percent of the county’s population, do not have adequate employment and / or entrepreneurship opportunities.

“Therefore, they are not able to contribute effectively to our country’s economic development,” he pointed out.

“A reform in our education curricular will ensure our youths are more competitive in the labour market,” Houenipwela stated.

He said that the Government is now taking steps to create innovative employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for our young people through-out the country.

“This year we will introduce a new Youth Empowerment Policy to drive youth employment and entrepreneurship in the country,” he highlighted.

Houenipwela said this framework will also include programs for leadership training, in sports, arts and drama and many other areas of interest to our youth population.

“To enhancing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for youths in the country, I am personally seeking to put in place formal labour mobility agreements with several countries including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Taiwan that I hope will help provide huge opportunities for our youths and alleviate the youth unemployment challenges in our country,” PM revealed.

“We must step up efforts to support our women in businesses initiatives and programs as well,” he said.

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