Solomons: Are the Labour Mobility schemes the answer to Solomon Islands’ high unemployment crisis due to the Government’s inability to create more jobs because of land issues?
Quoting the Island Sun newspaper – 11 February 2019
“The Solomon Islands Government has consolidated labour mobility schemes in three partner countries namely New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
“More than 1000 workers are expected to work in New Zealand and Australia by June this year.
“Currently, there are 50 workers in Canada, as government is looking to extend it to 150 this year as well.
“On the other hand, Solomon Islands has also suffered from “brain drain” as many highly qualified Solomon Islanders pursue working career overseas in different fields.
“Political parties have preached the “message of hope” during their campaign recently to bring “economic prosperity” after the National General Elections on April 3.
“While the nation is looking forward to a new government to address the underlying problems facing the country, workers have left its shores to work in New Zealand and Australia.
“Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela told media recently that the Labour Mobility schemes come with a lot of benefits because there are currently 200,000 youths in the country.
Houenipwela said in the short term, it will address unemployment.”
“He said in the long term, people working overseas will send remittances back to the country and Solomon Islands benefit from exchange rates.
“His Secretary, Dr Jimmy Rogers said one of the country’s biggest revenue earners, forestry is going down.
“Dr Jimmy said in Philippines, labour mobility is an industry where they received $10 billion every year.
“He said labour mobility has really benefited families and their economy.
“Furthermore, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Collin Beck said the economy in the country is growing slowly and development needs of the country are higher.
“As such, he said the Ministry tries to invest in youths to try and create wealth from within.
“He said currently the Labour Mobility Unit in the foreign affairs ministry (MFAET) is part of the ministry but as time goes on will be an entity of its own.
“Caretaker Minister of Lands, Housing and Survey, Andrew Manepora, an economist by profession, recently said in Solomon Islands, the government only owns 13 percent of the land and 87 percent are still held by the people.
“He said people need to open up the 87 percent of land to see “economic prosperity”.
“However, he said people are afraid to give up their land because they are not secured under the Lands and Titles Act.
“This has put the pressure on government as every year, newly graduate students return home from universities overseas and those completing studies at Solomon Islands National University (SINU) and Rural Training Centres search for jobs in the local markets.
“President of Kadere Party, Peter Boyers said Solomon Islands needs to change the British system with the Traditional Government system because they can open their land for developments.
“Boyers said they cannot do that under the current system because they will lose out on most benefits because someone else is going to own it.
“On the immediate front, the government sees Labour Mobility as one of the solutions to address the high unemployment rate among the youths.”
Copyright @ 2019, Island Sun newspaper.