CARETAKER Prime Minister Rick Hou said the Millennium Challenge Corporation [MCC] threshold program will assist greatly towards the country’s development aspirations.
When delivering a statement to the local media Thursday last week, Rick Hou said in terms of priority investment areas that could be of interest to the MCC, Solomon Islands will not be starting from scratch.
He said the country’s National Development Strategy (NDS) 2016 – 2035, together with the SDGs provides our starting platforms.
“We also have several tools including the Development Finance Assessment Report; the Solomon Islands Integrated Financial Framework and the Solomon Islands National Infrastructure Investment Programme that will assist in the prioritisation process,” Hou said.
The Prime Minister also highlighted that the Government will also explore innovative sectoral investment initiatives to drive economic outcomes across a range of sectors such as, investment in renewable energy in provinces through possible construction of hydroelectric dams wherever possible.
He said such investments will have flow-on investment in roads, ports and other transport infrastructure for rural populations in addition to providing secure energy to schools and health facilities to enhance the livelihood of the majority of our population.
“Our health and education sectors remain key areas for major infrastructure investments. What stops us from rolling out health services to all rural health facilities is simply – the lack of accommodation facilities for our health workers such as doctors and nurses as well as sub-standard facilities. And much of that is also to do with land-related issues.
“A similar picture exists in education. Major investment in staff accommodation in all our provincial health facilities and schools is the first step to improving health and education services throughout the country,” he said.
Prime Minister Houenipwela adds that investing in innovative economic empowerment programmes for our youth are also critical.
He said through initiatives such as the establishment of a ‘national youth economic and social empowerment centre’, coupled with the development of youth cooperatives throughout the country, it will empower young people and equip them to be corruption fighters, and be leaders in business, commerce and in the public affairs of this country.
Thursday’s press conference was organised purposely for the Prime Minister to announce Solomon Islands’ selection to participate under the MCC threshold program.
The occasion also saw US Consular Agent in Honiara Keithie Saunders handing over the official letter to the Prime Minister.
Hou also said the inclusion of Solomon Islands in MCC’s Threshold programme demonstrates the increasing attention being paid by the United States to the plight, as well as the strategic nature of the partnership with Solomon Islands.
“It further deepens the already existing inseparable bond between our two countries, which was forged during the Second World War and beyond.
“Solomon Islands had been trying to get access to the MCC programme over the years without success. In our Pacific region, only Vanuatu had ever received an MCC funded programme,” he said.
The funding package of the Threshold Programme ranges from USD$6 million to US$55 Million usually over 4 years.