The MP for Central Honiara, Nelson Ne'e, has blamed the high level of unemployment and rising cost of living and poor wages as the main underlying causes of the current rise in prostitution in Honiara.Mr. Ne'e urges the Government to address the situation by creating more job opportunities for Solomon Islanders particularly school leavers and take immediate steps in increase the current legal basic minimum wage, currently at $1.20 to $1.50 per hour.
The Central Honiara MP stressed that a worker's average family of five would never survive on any pay calculated at that rate of basic minimum wage.
"To see our young girls going into these vessels and selling their bodies to support themselves is very sad," he said.
Mr. Ne'e pointed out that it is the responsibility of the leaders of this nation to do something to prevent young people being exploited in such a disgraceful way.
"Next time, we will not see young girls going into the boats but married women going into the boats because there is no take home pay," warned Mr. Ne'e when speaking during the last sine die motion to conclude last parliament meeting.
He told Parliament that the responsible minister when approached on the possibility of increasing the current levels of basic legal minimum wage had assured him on several discussions that the Government would look at the issue.
Mr. Ne'e said that the Minister even assured him that the Government would introduce the necessary legislation to cater for an increase in basic legal minimum at the next sitting of Parliament.
The Central Honiara MP said that for the Government to live up to its commitment means that "our poor people, our families, and our friends in Honiara can have money and can meet the cost of living."
Mr. Ne'e revealed in Parliament that the last time legal minimum wage rates were increased was some 20 years back.
He said that the problems of unemployment, high cost of living and poor wages are also faced by those who work in provincial capitals such as Auki, Gizo, Kira Kira, Buala, and Lata.
Mr. Ne'e called on companies operating in the Solomon Islands to make sure that their employees are paid on the level of wages that would help them to at least meet their basic needs such as food, shelter, clothes, and school fees.