QUESTIONS are being asked as to whether the initial design of the Government’s Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) took into account strategic considerations critical to long term returns on the overall tax-payer-funded $320 million investment.
“Has the initial design for example embraced target sectors, the level of the proposed investment and returns from those sectors, the rate of returns both short and long term and any projection on returns on the overall package and how long this will take to realize any returns?” one man told Solomon Star yesterday.
“Because however one looks at it, the ESP represents a huge investment of public funds, which at the end of the day, demands returns. No one in his right mind puts such a huge amount of money without expecting anything back,” the man said.
He said the little information trickling out from Government to date suggests the ESP is “a total giveaway” to those who were fortunate enough to make it on the recipients’ list,” he said.
The man also expressed doubt the funding would revive our economy.
“We have gone beyond the point of no return. How the ESP has been distributed only exacerbates our economic woes,” he said.
One other individual said the ESP is now water under the bridge. Asked why the man responded;
“There is no sense in spending millions of dollars on piggery, knowing full well there is no market. The people, let alone businesses no longer have the spending power. The government should have looked at the bigger picture.
“For example, the ESP funding should be directed towards the development of infrastructure facilities such as reviving the now-defunct Livestock Development Authority (LDA).
“This is how you develop and grow your economy. As it is, the objective of the stimulus package is lost even before it is begun,” the man, a former politician, told Solomon Star.
Social media commentators have dubbed the ESP a “slush fund” for politicians and their cronies, claiming it will do little or nothing at all to revive our economy.
Politicians have received funding assistance from the ESP in varying amounts of between $600, 000 and $1 million each in the last three months.
Meanwhile, the Government has described as “false” lists of recipients circulating in Honiara. It is understood the government is organising a news conference to explain the distribution of the ESP funding, possibly today.
By Alfred Sasako