ESP brings hope to Russells - Solomon Star News

ESP brings hope to Russells

23 July 2020
ESP awareness team member Alex Kivolyn at Louna village on Sunday.

RECENTLY established government’s Covid-19 Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) has brought much hope to rural farmers and fishers in the Russell Islands in the Central Islands Province. 

This followed an awareness programme hosted at Louna Island on Sunday, a statement from Government Communication Unit said.

Officials from the ESP awareness team headed by Member of Parliament (MP) for the Savo-Russell constituency Dickson Mua met with farmers and fishers to explain in detail the intentions and processes involved in applying for the package.

“Participants throughout the Islands who have engaged mostly in copra production and fishing have expressed gratitude towards the national government for giving them hope in the package to rescue their business during these tough times created by covid-19.

“Many participants were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments regarding the initiative which were clarified and explained by the visiting awareness team on Sunday,” the statement said.

MP Mua also used the opportunity to explain to his constituents the ESP component that was allocated for constituencies by the Cabinet.

The constituency component, according Mr Mua is intended to support informal existing business ventures in the constituency that have been affected by COVID-19.

Mr told those that gathered that he has decided not disburse the constituency component in a similar way to how the Rural Constituency Development Fund (RCDF) was administered which only targeted voters and leaving out non-voters.

He said his constituency office administrators has decided to allow the constituency component to be administered by the ESP Oversight and Implementation Committee so that constituents can fairly apply to the committee for assistance.

“I have decided not to touch this component because I might not be able to assist everyone and that those who are likely to be unsuccessful will regard my decisions as political. 

“No, I do not want that to happen so I encourage everyone to apply through the normal ESP Oversight and Implementation Committee process,” Mr Mua said.

A copra producer spoken to said the initiative is one of the best that the national government can best assist rural farmers and fishers.

“Copra is one of our strengths in the Russell Islands and we are hoping the government will consider our applications so that we can increase our copra supplies to buyers and exporters,” he said.

Russell Islands host the countries single largest coconut plantation under Levers Solomons Limited and was operated by Russell Islands Plantation Limited (RIPEL) before an industrial dispute have halted operations some years back.