An intending candidate in this year’s national general election has called for major economic interventions, targeting agriculture and education as priority sectors.
Alfred Sasako who is contesting the East Kwaio seat on Malaita, said the sorry state of affairs of the economy calls for urgent action to stop the downward spiral, which is relegating more and more urban families to go under the poverty line.
“People are hurting. More will get hurt if appropriate measures to reverse the trend are not taken now,” Mr Sasako warned in a statement issued in Honiara yesterday.
“Agriculture as an industry is the key. It is the only industry that has the potential to revolutionize the nation’s development landscape. It has the potential for the scale of intervention that I am advocating here largely because of our land tenure system.
“I am articulating investment in agriculture that is massive, focused and balanced,” Alfred said.
He said Solomon Islands is endowed with natural resources, including agricultural crops which can bring about life-changing experience to resource-owners in rural Solomon Islands if the right balance is struck in a new partnership between resource-owners and investors.
“The rural areas which account for almost 85 per cent of the nation’s landmass must be unlocked so that it becomes the epicentre for a rural-based and vibrant economy. Agriculture is the industry that holds out every hope for an economic revival the like of which has never been seen before.
“To avoid bureaucratic red tape and time-wasting, a new administration after the November 19 election must embark on an aggressive, people-centred program such as the economic growth centre policy which the last government had abandoned for no apparent reason,” Alfred said.
“It’s time the rural people take the lead in developing their land. Unless they are empowered to work their own land, we will see little change in the next four years,” he said.
In education, Alfred has called for a massive injection of funds into the sector, saying ignoring the high cost of education is an abrogation of national responsibility on the part of government.
“Every Solomon Islands boy and girl must be accorded the opportunity to have a quality education. School fees which have become a major obstacle to most young people’s education must be removed, if we must.
“It is unfortunate that in the last three years we have seen the best of greed, misuse of public funds for political gain and discrimination against students based on their voting choice,” Mr Sasako said.
He said such a practice must be dispensed with immediately as it does not add an iota to nation building.