NEW Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has met with the Leader of Opposition Jeremiah Manele and Independent Leader Manasseh Maelanga last Friday.
When receiving Minister McCully and his delegation at Parliament, both leaders acknowledged the New Zealand Foreign Minister’s visit and to include them in the Minister’s schedule.
The Leader of Opposition Mr Manele particularly acknowledged the long standing bilateral and people to people relationship between Solomon Islands and New Zealand.
Mr McCully in response said, he was humbled to have an audience with the Leader of Opposition and the Leader of Independent as he respects the importance of democracy in Solomon Islands.
During the meeting, the issues discussed include security/RAMSI draw-down, renewable energy, political parties integrity act, the aviation sector and the projects in Malaita Province.
Regarding the issue of security, Mr McCully said, his government is offering to assist Solomon Islands with bilateral policing support as the RAMSI’s draw-down transition period nears.
This has been welcomed by both Manele and Maelanga as they highlighted the importance of security particularly along the Solomon Islands and PNG border.
In the Aviation sector, Mr Manele thanked the New Zealand’s Government commitment in upgrading the aviation industry in the country.
Mr Manele said, the Government should progress with the aviation bilateral arrangements that were agreed upon during the former Prime Minister’s state visit to New Zealand last year.
As for the issue on renewable energy, Mr McCully told both leaders that the New Zealand Government is also keen in assisting Solomon Islands particularly with the Tina Hydro Project.
The Opposition Leader in response has welcomed the NZ’s Government’s interest in supporting the Tina Hydro project.
Mr Manele said, Solomon Islands has one of the highest or the highest costs of electricity in the region or in the world for that matter.
“It is a major disincentive to any investor either local or foreign; therefore, there is a need to invest more in renewable energy developments such as hydro power in the provinces to drive our socio-economic endeavors.”
The meeting also highlighted the need for economic development particularly in Malaita province with the Opposition Leader proposing that the New Zealand Government to also extend its assistance to Malaita province.
Mr McCully in response has acknowledged Mr Manele’s suggestion stating that this could be discussed in future bilateral talks with the Government.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Foreign Minister has acknowledged the democratic role of the Parliamentary Opposition and the Independent Office in providing the check and balance on the Government.