East Are’Are MP and Opposition member Peter Kenilorea Jr has called on the government to bring more clarity in its overall COVID-19 strategy and to better inform the public on it.
“It will be good to know what the government’s overall strategy is to deal with this pandemic,” Kenilorea said in a statement issued recently.
“Without this strategy it is not clear what the government is planning to do to manage the impact that Covid has on health and on this ailing economy,” he added.
Kenilorea made this call in light of the need to effectively tackle both the public health issue and the economic fallout of the covid-19 virus.
“I am aware that there is a response and preparedness plan that has been put in place during the earlier phase of the pandemic which has provided a guide to the public health response and preparedness of the country in dealing with the virus.
“I am also aware that a covid stimulus package has been developed and is in the process of being rolled out.
“But I am concerned that the package might not result in effecting the required economic impact needed at this time.”
Kenilorea said these two initiatives are both underlined by separate documentation but both need to be part of an overall comprehensive strategy to address the impacts of covid in our nation.
On the economic impact, Kenilorea called on the government to think deeper around the objectives of the stimulus package and to ensure that this is clearly communicated to a public which now has high expectations that the stimulus package is the cure to the current challenges we are all facing.
“Whether an additional stimulus package will be forthcoming later and where such packages should be targeted to are issues that must be considered now as well as part of this strategy.
“The delivery mechanisms of the stimulus plan need to be better tightened to ensure that the resources and funds end up where they should.
“Their impacts should be measurable, and contingencies should be in place to adjust, if and when needed, to ensure that the ultimate objective – which should be about keeping the national economy running – are met.”
Kenilorea suggested that part of the problem may lie with the lack of a clear policy directive that underpins all this effort.
‘The absence of a clear policy directive from the executive branch of government to the implementing agencies of government has seen a disjointed effort in tackling both the public health and economic issues caused by covid-19 in a deliberate, strategic, and clear manner.
“If the intention is to prevent the virus from arriving on our shores then policy directives towards this end must be expressly stated and the implementation of this intention must be formulated and costed.
“The tag line ‘Iumi Tugeda Against Covid-19’ is a campaign slogan but it is not a clear policy directive in itself.”
The East Are’Are MP said a clearer policy on keeping the virus out of the country would go a long way to ensuring a whole of Solomon Islands approach in responding to the threats posed by covid-19.
Now that there is testing and quarantine facilities setup, Kenilorea states that the public needs to know the strategies for testing and how accurate these new testing processes are.
“This instils confidence and trust in the testing process by public,” he added.
Kenilorea further states that in terms of our economic recovery, “is it the intention to keep the borders closed until there is a vaccine?
“Or is there a plan to link up with the COVID-free countries in the Pacific Islands region including NZ and Australia who have been very successful in controlling COVID in their nations and keeping the Pacific safe?’
“These issues are very important for the public to know about, as business houses need to plan and the economy needs to restart.”
Kenilorea said that the safe movement of people will give the opportunity for both government and business activities to pick up again, and create much needed economic activity.
“Clearer policy directives and covid strategy need to be in place before any further talk on the intention to declare another State of Emergency can begin.
“To do otherwise would be irresponsible on the part of the government.
“All over the world it has been proven that clear policy directives and timely public information is the single most important ingredient for effectively dealing with COVID.
“I encourage the government to focus on these as a priority.”
Kenilorea also reiterated the call he made in parliament for a bi-partisan approach in addressing the impacts of covid-19.
He said despite his call the Government had not reached out to work hand in hand with the Opposition members on covid-19 issues.
“I again call on the government to work together with those of us in the Opposition in a bi-partisan way that shows our togetherness in stopping covid-19 from entering our nation.”