15 November 2018
Forest Watchdog reiterates calls for the Solomon Islands Government to help stop illegal logging practices and occurrences in the country
The Solomon Forest Association (SFA) has issued a notice today, Thursday, 15th November 2018, calling on the Solomon Islands Government to help stop illegal logging activities occurring in the country.
The notice follows a recent similar kind of appeal lodged by civil society organizations in Papua New Guinea (PNG) calling on China to introduce regulations on illegal wood imports from PNG.
The SFA spokesperson reiterated many previous statements made saying if any of its members were “acting out of hand and found to be breaking the law,” then the Association would wish to de-register the offending member but it could not do this alone and once more called on the Solomon Islands Government to ensure a proper measure of control over logging operations is introduced.
15 November 2018
Raised voices and troubling concerns of Solomon Islands youth
As long ago as 1997 when I first arrived in the Solomon Islands, I was concerned about the job prospects of the unemployed young people and since those early years I have become increasingly concerned about the growing numbers of youths without jobs and the increasing voices of the young people to be consulted and to be able to participate as equals in decision making that involves their prospects, livelihoods and especially concerns over land and tenure.
Veteran journalist Alfred Sasako recently reported in the Island Sun newspaper on the closing stages on a Land Summit that was held in Malaita.
The report claimed that young people at the summit had issued what were reported as warnings to political leaders to take their concerns on board, citing leadership amongst the political elite as being a problem.
I can sympathise with the young people having been an observer of their unemployment prospects and their desire, indeed need, for closer involvement in matters that have been brewing for the past 20 years.
Strong language was claimed to have been voiced by some youths at the Land Summit, as recorded by Mr. Sasako and I will not repeat here was attributed to the words of one or two speakers, save to offer one or two comments.
Threats that were insinuated might have been political hyperbole or unpleasantly sharp attacks, but rather too strong for free speech, I thought.
Way back in 2002, the National Youth Policy provided the basis on which efforts to promote youth development would be directed, particularly in its key strategy area, challenges that required immediate actions to be addressed.
The policy provided a framework for the coordination & strengthening of then current youth programmes & activities.
It was seen an important instrument for the cause of youth empowerment to become an integral part of overall development.
Incorporated were guidelines for the purpose of developing programmes in the form of a National Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment.
In view of the now more strident and thought provoking views of the youth, views I would still choose to view as expressions of free speech rather than threats, what plans exist as main components of national youth policy to promote the productive employment of young people and, crucially, how will things change to see their full involvement in consultations and decision making on all matters which involve their lives in every aspect?
$3.93b budget announced
Quoting the Solomon Star newspaper – 15 November 2018
“THE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Treasury Manasseh Sogavare has announced a $3.93 billion budget under the theme ‘Resourcing the basic fundamentals’, Tuesday.
“The announcement was made when he moved the 2019 Appropriation Bill 2018 to be put to the second reading in the parliament on Tuesday.
“Delivering the Government’s fiscal plan for 2019 Mr Sogavare said the 2019 Budget will strictly focus on all Ministries’ core business, ensuring that they continue to adequately ‘resource the basic fundamentals’ of government within the resource envelope that is available to them.
“The $3.93 billion will be spent to provide the services to the people of Solomon Islands,” Mr Sogavare said.
“He further added that for the first time in Solomon Islands history the payroll budget will account for 34% of total SIG expenditure or $1.24 billion.
“Mr Sogavare added that the other charges budget will account for 52% of total SIG expenditure or $1.91 billion.
“The Development Budget has been reduced further to 13% of SIG expenditure or $475 million in an effort to clean out all SIG implementation or limited funding.
“As a result these projects have not been delivered or completed even with ongoing funding, instead this government has committed to investments in 2019 that are ready to be mobilised and implemented,” Mr Sogavare said.”
Copyright @ 2018, Solomon Star news.
15 November 2018
Solomon Islands: A week of encouraging health related news
Two separate news reports published this week in the Island Sun newspaper, both related to local health issues, were praiseworthy and justify comment.
The first report made reference to the Solomon Islands PNG Association having generously handed over medical equipment to the National Referral Hospital (NRH) worth over S50, 000.
The equipment comprised an ECG machine and a Suction machine, both items especially useful to the NRH.
The money needed to purchase the equipment was said to have been raised following an appeal by the Solomon Islands PNG Association on the occasion of Solomon Islands 40th Independence anniversary.
To all the people and organizations in PNG that contributed to the appeal I would like to express my personal thanks and say I very much appreciate the donated medical equipment now in practical use at the NRH.
The other piece of news I found particularly encouraging was the report which related to a health team that had undergone specialist health training in order to better respond to disasters.
Quoting from the Island Sun article it said:
"Solomon Islands now have its own Emergency Medical Team to respond to outbreaks, natural disasters and other health emergencies.
"Known as SOLMART, a group of health professionals have undergone a weeklong training that is locally structured to suit the needs of Solomon Islanders.
"Speaking to Island Sun during the professionals training, Dr. Nemia Bainivalu, Supervising Undersecretary Health Improvement said, the names of health personnel will now be entered into a database whereby they can be able to respond to emergency situations should the need arise.
"Dr. Bainivalu said from the database, they will also identify those that can be trained in specialised areas to further enhance their capacity. “
China seen as key for reducing illegal logging in Melanesia
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 15 November 2018
“Civil society is looking at China as the best bet for reducing illegal logging in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
“PNG is China's single largest supplier of timber, large quantities of which come from illegal operations.
“A policy advisor with the environmental and anti-corruption NGO Global Witness says PNG's government has largely failed to put the interests of landowners who depend on forests ahead of foreign logging interests.
“Lela Stanley said China holds the key because it purchases at least 85 percent of PNG's annual log exports.”
Copyright @ 2018, Radio New Zealand