The Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Luke Forau, has launched the 2019 CBSI Annual Report.

Due to coronavirus containment measures, the launching was done virtually, with the theme “preparing for a new normal amidst covid-19 and harnessing the opportunities for economic recovery.”

Dr Forau says that the theme is relevant given the current situation, a climate of uncertainty where economic prospects are bleak.

“Looking ahead, the outlook for the Solomon Islands economy this year is quite bleak. Although Solomon Islands is still COVID-19 free, the impact of our preparedness against this pandemic on our economy, has taken a toll on our projected growth for this year,” Dr Forau said.

He says that the economic growth for this year will contract to around minus 5%.

“The country’s external and domestic environments will continue to be affected by the health containment measures and the weak consumer demand. Sectors that we have already seen been affected and will continue to be affected significantly include tourism, transport, wholesale retail, manufacturing, agriculture, and forestry.

“The uncertainty surrounding the duration and magnitude of the COVID-19, let alone continuous preparedness and containment measures, will continue to have negative impact on the economy,” said the Central Bank Governor.

He says while the impact of COVID-19 will be far reaching there are opportunities to do things differently. He says the country has always been resilient, as evidenced in the past, "so I believe we can utilize the opportunities that come with the economic recovery to build a better Solomon Islands."

“Looking ahead, perhaps this pandemic has brought us to a new normal. A new era that requires that we explore new ways of doing things. That is to do things differently, to be more creative and innovative to develop our country.

"These are not new ideas but if cultivated with vision, we can effectively utilize the opportunities that will arise once our economy recovers and realistically place our growth trajectory on a more inclusive and broad-based development path.

“As part of a broadening of the economic base, encouraging new and niche agricultural crop production, as well as encouraging larger semi-commercial and cooperatives would spread activities to our rural populace," Dr Forau emphasized.

He says that villages throughout the country has been used as a fall back when the country goes through a crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Dr Forau says that given that villages have been, and will continue to be, an insurance of sorts for Solomon Islanders, it would be important that discussions focus on alternative paths to development.

“After 40 years of self-chatting our economic destiny, we are still no way near an economy that can economically sustain its people. Ladies and gentlemen, Solomon Islands needs an alternative development path with alternative transmission channel(s).

“Consultative and participatory approaches to development are important for resource owners to feel and have ownership of projects and investments in their communities.”