A rural farmer says the process to apply for the economic stimulus package is too tedious.

Mr Boe Kilua from Aola in East Central Guadalcanal says he was unable to complete his application as there are too many requirements.

He says he spent almost two thousand dollars just to do ground work to meet the requirements.

Kilua is seeking assistance for his cocoa plantation.

“My proposal has been submitted”.

However he says there is no hope for his application since he was not able to fulfil most of the requirements.

“I have spent thousands of dollars”.

Kilua left his family in the village in June to travel to Honiara after hearing the call for applications via the media.

“It is my fourth week now in Honiara. Every process costs money. It has become a challenge for me since I do not have enough money. I am not literate so I have to ask someone to write my proposal. I live at Betikama and most days I walk back and forth to the Agriculture office”.

He adds the information about the stimulus package is still confusing for him.

“There is information about these rural stimulus packages but I am still confused. Especially for us in the rural area, the government should try and pass on the information in a simple manner”, he says.

Kilua further says the government should prioritize rural farmers and should try and make things easy for them so they can get assistance.

Kilua is hoping to get assistance to rehabilitate his 5000 cocoa plants.

The government’s Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) has three overarching guiding principles including:

  1. Quick economic return, which means the applicant’s proposed activity for funding should have a quick turnaround preferably not more than six months;
  2. Significant impact to the rural and national economy by encouraging income generating activities and employment. This means the proposed activity should enjoy a good number of people and contributes hugely to the national economy through taxes, business licenses and growth in manpower resources;
  3. Platform for long term economic recovery post covid-19 which sets the foundation for multiplier effect from economic activity, investment and growth.

In an earlier statement, Policy Secretary for the Productive Sector in the Prime Minister’s Office, Samson Viulu (PhD) says the ESP is inclusive for all individuals, groups and Associations who are already engaged in business activities both in the formal and non-formal sector.

“The package is aimed at rural workers in the rural areas and is directly channelled from the Government through the COVID-19 Oversight and Implementation Committee directly to the recipients,” Viulu explained.

Viulu says the ESP is mainly to relieve struggling entrepreneurs in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, tourism and forestry to maintain and boost production output at all levels of the production value chain.

He explained that most rural farmers are eligible to apply by submitting simple project proposals, even a two page proposal with all the basic relevant information are sufficient.

“There is no standard application form but rural farmers who have existing farms can simply write up their application stating precisely the assistance they need,” says Viulu.

He also adds they may relax some of the qualifying criteria for assistance under the ESP for existing rural farmers.

“Most rural farmers do not engage in the formal business sector and may not have legal supporting documents, but can submit applications given they have existing farms, with the hope that in the long run, these farmers will eventually register their businesses so that provincial governments too can earn revenue through business licenses”.

Viulu says follow up assessments on site will be done after the submissions are received. This is for verification purposes.