PRIME Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo says the Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum and Trade Expo is an important opportunity to promote business and investments in “our country”.
Speaking in Brisbane yesterday at the 6th Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum and Trade Expo, Mr Lilo said that during his time as Prime Minister he kept attending the Forum because he believed that it was a good opportunity to promote business in Solomon Islands.
He said the continued growth of the Forum is also matched with the deepening relationship between the two countries.
“On our bilateral relationship, both countries have continued to develop a deep relationship that continues to grow,” he told delegates.
“I believe through this Forum and the deepening relationship between our peoples a common ground is found to further advance our relationship,” he said.
Speaking on the theme: From Opportunity to Reality, Mr Lilo said Australia remains a significant player in Solomon Islands and this is evident in the increase of the establishment of Australian businesses in the country.
Mr Lilo also spoke about the challenges facing Solomon Islands from political instability to higher cost of running businesses especially electricity prices.
He said the Government is making progress to address some of these issues.
Mr Lilo said in the government’s bid to bring down the cost of electricity and improve reliability, the country has supported two renewable energy projects: Tina River Hydro River Project and the Savo Geothermal Project with smaller ones are also in the pipeline for Auki and the other provinces.
“The time horizons for these projects are three to four years and when they do come into operation, we expect to see an improvement in reliability and reduced cost for electricity,” Mr Lilo said.
On government finance accountability, the Prime Minister recalled that Parliament had passed a significant number of legislations which regulate the use of public finance and key amongst these is the Public Finance Management Act which provides a robust and transparent mechanism for the use of public monies.
Under the act, politicians and permanent secretaries are now placed under the spotlight for the authorizations and use of monies for development purposes.
Mr Lilo added that there have also been amendments made to the Mines and Minerals Act to allow for deductions to be made and just this week, the Business Names Act has been passed to clean the business registry and provide accurate information on the businesses that had been registered.
Mr Lilo encouraged members of the Forum to forge partnerships with Solomon Islanders in a way that is mutually beneficial.
“The Solomon Islands continues to provide you opportunities. It is our job to turn these into reality,” Mr Lilo.