Extract from my memoirs.

Two days after the disastrous fire in the Ministry of Finance Building, the six-session of the National Parliament was convened.

The Governor-General, Sir Moses Pitakaka, GCMG, in delivering his opening speech, said the Ulufa’alu led SIAC government would focus on a comprehensive review of the country’s fiscal and monetary policies. He outlined the fact that the Solomon Island’s economy was then facing current debts totalling more than S$711 million – about half in external debt and half domestic.

He added that while the government would concentrate on reducing the debt level, it would also try to ensure sustained growth. This would not be easy as the country’s credit worthiness and general financial standing was very low with existing arrears to creditors of S$145 million.

The Governor-General also mentioned that since assuming office, SIAC had cancelled all tax remissions and exemptions, tightened expenditure controls and paid some arrears of loans from lending institutions in the country and overseas, as well as having recovered some revenue.

Sir Moses concluded his speech by announcing that representatives of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank had visited Honiara, at the government’s request, and the representatives had offered help.

Some days later, in a public forum, Prime Minister Ulufa’alu promised to settle the country’s debts within the first 12 months of office. He was quoted as saying. “The government will embark on a major structural and adjustment policy, both in the monetary and fiscal sectors which will result in a downsizing of the public service.”

Importantly, Ulufa’alu announced that the government would continue to normalize and harness relationships with the country’s development partners to regain their confidence and trust and to forge new partnerships.

Here, I saw, an opportunity to ask the Australians for help in the reform and re-development of the police service. All in all the right sounds were being emitted from the government and the people were listening with a positive take on what they were hearing.

To be continued ……