Thursday, 26 June 2008 7:26 PM

Shame on the Opposition!

Is Manasseh Sogavare or Japheth Waipora serious? I am not going to defend the failure(s) of this government, but for the Leader of Opposition and his spokesman, Waipora to claim that this government has done nothing to stop the rising costs of food and fuel is not only absurd, but misleading.

Where were you (Sogavare and Waipora) - seven months ago - when the cost of a 20-kg bag of rice was almost $SBD120 in Honiara and about $SBD200 in some provincial centres?

Prior to Sogavare's election as Prime Minister in April 2006, the cost of a 20-kg bag of rice then was less than $SBD80 in Honiara and more than $SBD130 in some provincial centres.

After the burning down of China Town and the shops that were providing services to the populace in selling goods and the subsequent election of the Sogavare-led government after the chaos, prices of food and imported goods in Honiara almost jumped three-fold. No one from the government then cares to express concern about it.

During Sogavare's reign as PM, nothing was done about the soaring cost of living, food and fuel prices; instead his government dedicated its entire energy and resources toward keeping and defending the controversial appointments of Julian Moti as AG and later Khan as Police Commissioner.

For almost a year and half or more, the current Opposition was in government. Instead of the leadership taking bold steps in tackling major economic, social and political challenges, it opted to fight aid donors - not in a small way but big time! Australia was one of its targets.

Again, I am not really sure about the 'promises' made by Dr Derek Sikua during his campaign to become the Prime Minister then. But all I know, according to public records, the decision by Dr Sikua and Gordon Darcy Lilo to cross over to the Opposition then and led the charge that toppled the Sogavare-led government was on the basis that they were fed-up with Sogavare's dictatorial attitude and uncompromising leadership style.

Besides the above reason - one wonders - did Sogavare do/done anything then as Prime Minister to stop the increasing food and fuel cost, which he is now using it as a political ploy and blaming the current government? I am told that the cost of a 20-kg bag of rice in Honiara today is around $SBD200 in some shops, and I guess in most provincial centers, the cost is around $SBD300.

Additionally, the increasing price of fuel in Honiara, which is now around $SBD8 a litre and $SBD14 a litre in some provincial centres, is a challenge that neither the current government nor any future government will have any direct control over it.

Solomon Islands relies heavily on imported fuel and goods. The country has no manufacturing industry and almost every single thing is imported. Additionally, her economic base is very narrow. As a result people are bound to experience tougher times ahead with soaring prices of imported goods, including food and fuel.

The situation is worsen by the weakening Solomon Islands dollar value, which almost meaningless when exchanged with the Australian dollar, where fuel and other goods are imported (Shell and Mobile Oil).

In an international scale, the soaring prices of food and fuel are becoming a global phenomenon and Solomon Islands is no exception. The least this government can do is to plan for the next ten to 20 years for domestic production of goods/food and cutting levies on current food and fuel imports. Any other alternative - let economists and the Central Bank deal with it. But first of all, the country's leaders have to provide leadership maturity and show seriousness in harnessing political and economic stability.

I guess the best solution for the Leader of Opposition and his supporters and colleagues is to stop blame-shifting and barking about issues that they were once unable to address. You were once on the helm of the country's steering wheels as a Prime Minister, not ones but twice, but failed to deliver.

It is time to stop playing political mind games with the conflict-and-social-dislocation weary people of Solomon Islands and show genuine leadership and maturity in dealing with issues that are threatening the very fabric of society.

We don't want another round of the Moti saga, childish boycotting of forum meetings, attempt to kick RAMSI out, fighting aid donors, severing diplomatic ties, using of divisive languages and political rhetoric, deportation of diplomats and law abiding foreigners for doing their jobs, employment and protection of foreign rejects, appointment and employment of cronies and wantoks to top political and bureaucratic positions, and using magicians and sorcerers as advisors - just to mention a few.

Allow Fred Fono and Dr Derek Sikua to finish what they have started - the road to recovery and mending of international relations. In this way, we can hope for a better future with stability and security - the two vital pillars to economic recovery and developmental progress that were missing in the past regime.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Duran Angiki and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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