Monday, 10 September 2007 8:57 AM

Reform Will Bring Positive Change: Lilo

Minister of Finance and Treasury, Gordon Darcy Lilo, says the government's current reform agenda has improved the country's economic situation after years of stagnant growth.

Addressing a Business Seminar involving a visiting Taiwan Trade Mission, Mr Lilo said the government's reform agenda is driven by a desire to create the best possible environment for investment in the country - both from within Solomon Islands and from foreign investors.

"The series of reforms going on here in Solomon Islands are having a profound and positive impact on the lives of ordinary Solomon Islanders," Mr Lilo said.

Minister Lilo said the Government is overseeing a period of strong economic growth in Solomon Islands. In 2006, real GDP grew by 6.1 per cent and is expected to remain around 6 per cent this year. He said the country has also experienced a surge in employment which continues to grow strongly.

Mr Lilo said despite this strong economic performance, inflation has not been compromised and fell to 5.6 per cent through the year to June.

The other achievement after the reform program is the reduction of tax holidays and other exemptions which reduces corruption and results in the overall tax burden being shared more fairly.

"High tariff rates have been brought down, with virtually all goods now being subject to only a 10 per cent duty," he said. "This will significantly reduce the cost of importing critical inputs to production such as marine transport and construction materials," Mr Lilo said.

He said this strong economic performance is no accident but a result of hard work through proactive reforms that have set the foundation for this growth.