Posted by: nativeiowan | August 26, 2010

New Pm Makes a splash

from the Sol-Star…

NEWLY elected Prime Minister Danny Philip is ensuring issues bogging the minds of many ordinary citizens are immediately cleared.

Mr Philip, during a press conference yesterday cleared his position on a number of issues and hinted some of his plans.

The following are some of the issues of immediate concern he spoke on:
On RAMSI

RAMSI’s presence in the Solomon Islands is governed by an Act of Parliament, namely the “Facilitation of Foreign Assistance Act”. It has a parliamentary mandate and only parliament can change that mandate. What my government will be doing is to liaise closely with the leaders of RAMSI to ensure that the main objectives of the mission are achieved in a timely and effective fashion.

My government will not put pressure on RAMSI; hence we will not talk about exit strategy. We will be collaborating with the mission’leadership under the current partnership arrangements to ensure that remaining tasks are achieved smoothly.

RAMSI is not an occupation force – it is here by invitation and will remain so until the work is done.

There will be continuing dialogue in areas of mutual benefits. Through these dialogues, issues will be resolved.
On logging
Logging accounts for more than 46% of the government revenue. Unfortunately, previous governments have been using this revenue source to bankroll public expenditure without giving any consideration at all for its unsustainability.
I am conscious of allegations of corruption linked to the logging sector. Where these allegations are substantiated, my government will respond with appropriate measures. These are issues of under-pricing by the department of Forest and the Central Bank. These are institutions that are legally charged with the duty of ensuring that the country gets the correct and fair prices for its log exports. If they are found to be negating on their duties, appropriate actions will be taken.
My government will be looking at the idea by the last government to establish the timber marketing commission. Perhaps this has come too late. However, if the idea is to maximise the value of our timber we will not hesitate to give it our blessings. The only caveat is that the move should not compromise our intention to cut back on our current rate of deforestation which may be detrimental to our environment.

On Gender balance and women membership in parliament
Issues of gender equality and women membership of parliament must not be pushed by the United Nations or by outside based NGOs. Such issues may only be successfully pursued by Solomon Islands women who are committed to the idea of elevating the role of women to new levels.

I have a feeling that in the constituencies contested by women candidates during the National General election, less than 8 percent of women voters voted for those women candidates and the rest instead voted for male candidates.

This shows either two things 1) that female vocies we hear do not represent the views and feelings of Solomon Islands women or that 2) women in Solomon Islands are not committed to the course.

Constitutional reform alone will not effectively put women in parliament. Women can only come to parliament if they themselves truly believe in and are united or committed to the idea. My government will be more than willing to re look at the issue in partnership with women leaders.

Whatever solution we agree on must be sustainable, democratically sound and fully acceptable to our women population throughout the nation, not just women leaders in Honiara.

On Fiji
My government will engage in direct talks. The isolation of that country by the South Pacific Forum is a serous mistake. Fiji is the home of several of our regional organisations. Their former leaders were the initiators of the South Pacific Forum. As long as the military regime in that country is committed to returning their people to democratic rule, the question of timing should not be one of too much concern.

Fiji has a unique history, unlike many of the former British, Australian and French colonies in the Pacific. My government will discuss with the Interim Prime Minister and identify the areas of electoral reform now being embarked upon. Where possible, we will seek to ensure that these reforms are carried out with genuine commitment. It is genuine commitment that is important, not the exact number of weeks or months it will take to hold democratic elections.

On Taiwan

My government does not have any desire to change its current relation with the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan. Criticisms relating to funding and aid programes are matters that may be discussed at bilateral level so that aid funds are best applied towards development projects.

If the need arises, we may review our country’s “One China policy” based on current changes in the geo-politics and geo-economics of the Asia Pacific region. Such a review will purely be a technical and professional exercise and will be for the sole purpose of my government being fully advised on what is happening at the regional and global diplomatic market places.

Solomon Islands is not that desperate so as to embark on “Cheque-book”foreign relations policy.

On State government
My government will approach the issue of state government within the overall framework of our decentralisation policy and constitutional reform.
Whatever approach we take in terms of power sharing and decentralisation, must not lead to over-burdening of our nation with huge public sector expenses. At the same time we need to take cognisance of the cry by some of our provinces for more autonomy. My government will be committed to developing a sensible policy on federalism which will take into account the conflicting demands by our people.

On Julian Moti
The issue is currently before the Australian courts. If you want to know whether I will re-engage that particular person as Attorney General, the answer is NO. We have experienced Solomon Islanders who are more than capable for the post.

I will be recomending the name of the next Attorney General to the Judicial and Legal Services Commission within the next 36 hours and he will not be from overseas.

On political reform bills
My new Attorney General will be studying the relevant draft pieces of legislation and give us advice on what may be done. The bills contain sound ideas which we will be happy to re-present to parliament at the appropriate time. This must be sooner than expected.

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