SOLOMONS NEEDS OUTSIDE INTERVENTION, EAST-WEST CENTER ECONOMY EXPERT OSMAN

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (August 2, 2002 - SIBC/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands remains badly divided politically, struggling economically and needs more outside intervention, an expert on regional economies says.

Dr. Wali Osman, Bank of Hawaii Senior Fellow for the Pacific Economies at the East-West Center in Hawai‘i, offered these conclusions as he spoke of ways to put the country back on track.

He was presenting a report on Pacific Island economies last month to the Sub-Committee on East Asia and the Pacific Committee on International Relations, United States House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. [see: http://www.house.gov/international_relations/osma0723.htm]. 

Dr. Osman said the prospects for returning the Solomon Islands to stable political and economic conditions are not strong because of:

§ the fractious political situation,

§ ethnic and linguistic divisions, and

§ a tribal setup, which impede the building of modern political and economic institutions.

He added that even with political stability, rebuilding the Solomon Islands economy will be a challenge because of poor infrastructure, high transport costs and concerns about malaria.

Dr. Osman said that doing anything to generate new income requires secure and certain access to land in the Solomon Islands. It will be essential to find a practical solution to the problem of uncertain land titles, he said.

He added that having a predictable system of land use rights and exchange for specific and limited uses should also help preserve the integrity of the communal system.

In his Washington, D.C. comments, Dr. Osman also stressed that as a part of the territory integral to U.S. strategic and economic interests in both the short and long terms, the Pacific Ocean must be considered a special case.

This means the United States must be willing to pay a small price to keep the Pacific Ocean peaceful and to help its small economies prosper, he said.

The Solomon Islands faces a deepening economic crisis after more than two years of ethnic conflict and continuing law and order problems despite a peace agreement.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza has given assurances that his government is operating normally despite what people say in relation to the recent Cabinet reshuffle.

He said the reshuffle is a normal government exercise, in attempts to rectify areas that need improvements.

He confirmed receiving some reservations from some ministers, but said they are yet to get back to him with their final decision.

Ministers understood to be unhappy with their new ministries include former ministers Alex Bartlett (Foreign Affairs and Trade Relations), Edward Huniehu (Commerce) and Walton Naezon (Energy and Mines).

The leader of the Association of Independent MPs group in Sir Allan's coalition government, Deputy Prime Minister Snyder Rini, is also understood to be unhappy. He is said to have complained that he was not consulted.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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