MP, you pushed a button and got me going here…
You know, in many ways, the economy is/ has been doing very well. Of course logging is fading away. Fishing is on going but decreasing rather than increasing. Mining is heating up but brings a bad reputation and promises a sad legacy.
A lot of people (not all of them Solomon Islanders) are making very good money in the Solomons.
But a huge percentage of the demographic is seriously disenfranchised by the system that rules and governs. Minimum wage is $4sbd/ .50 USD per hour. Birth rate is still over 3.5. Half the population is under 25 yrs and half of that group is under 15yrs. It is this grouping that builds road blocks.
Consider: Roughly 65% of the economy of the Solomons is aid driven. MP, in you time it was more like 15%.
The people making the money are not by and large the average Solomon Islander. Though there is indeed an emerging middle class, they are the elite who have access to finance and can buy houses and cars, but they represent a very small % of the overall picture.
Roughly 20% of the population holds full-time employment. (As if subsistence farming is not an occupation) Over 50% of the 20% employed are employed by the government.
Go back to the MP days of the Solomons… Roads were in constant need of repair. Airports, wharfs and other infrastructure had either been built by the colonial government or were a by-product of the Pacific war. The education system was in need of a revamp, as was the medical system.
Nothing has changed. No new roads have been built and few if any have been properly maintained. The idea of physical planning does not exist. No new airports or wharfs have really developed since you were last in the country. New schools have been built or old schools expanded but it is an exercise in numbers not education. I actually believe that there are less hospitals and clinics in the country now than in the MP days.
But we do got cell phone coverage!!!
I sound like I am complaining, not so. I am rabble rousing. I have been trying for years to light a fire under the sedentary arse of the next generation.
A generation of leadership (my peer group) has been in control of the Solomons since independence and has nothing but diabetes, a huge foreign debt and a bleak future to show for it all. The “urban” centres are changing/ have changed into big villages where sanitation and water take second seat to cell phone cover. The largest piece of legislation on the SIG books is the 2009 telecommunication bill which I, to my shame, had a hand in writing and implementing.
I dig one bit of news where it was reported recently: The members of parliament and the parties involved in this tragic affair would meet to solve the “tribal conflict” that was resulted from the murder.
The idea that we continue to deem everything “tribal” gives one an insight to our main problem… This recent and tragic death has as much to do with tribal affairs as a traffic ticket. This was a late night hijacking intended to scare who ever came up to the road block into paying something to those manning the road block. It was thuggery at it’s finest. I am willing to wager that the perpetrates come from no less than 3 different language groups and that half of those involved do not even speak a home language and one of the group has never been out of Honiara. Very tribal!
The recent murder in the street of Honiara has nothing to do with Tribal Affairs. But we treat is as such. The parliamentarians get involved and, eventually the government doles out serious $$s to both side of the fracas. What is the message here…
I simply do not get it.
And so long as we who call the Solomons home “do not get it” we will continue to repeat the mistakes until another generation does.