Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


John Roughan: Village-Led Economic Recovery!

Village-Led Economic Recovery!


John Roughan
9 August 2004
Honiara

Last year an AusAID position paper boldly presented the above insightful statement. Solomon Islanders should champion a village-led economic recovery plan it recommended. Had these words been uttered by our own economic thinkers and planners, it would constituted a fundamental change in economic thinking and planning. In fact, it would be the first radical change in economic thinking since independence!

This fresh statement made by a totally urban country shows delightful insight. However, I fear that this idea will not travel far in the halls of power because our political elite favour another kind of economic advance. One that backs the country's elite's life style, not one that brings The Better Life to the majority of our people.

What the nation has continued to suffer from its earliest days and which only deepened during the Social Unrest period--1998-2003--is the growth of two kinds of Solomons. Two groups of Solomons' people although living in the same country have been growing apart and never more so than at present. It is that reality, I suspect, which separates Robert Goh, the PM's Special Advisor, and myself so profoundly. The reader should keep in mind that Solomon Islands is the home of two kinds of people: the few who define life by their power, prestige and perks and the rest of the country who fight to keep body and soul together.

Robert Goh and I--like ships passing in the night--talk past each other. He sees a government that has made rapid strides--economic recovery, law and order upswing, a strong future--while I can't get village life--hard, physical labour increasing, basic life patterns weakening, declining youth participation--out of my mind. He claims last year's progress comes from the Kemakeza government's policies, personalities and performance. I doubt this very much!

Guadalcanal's only three rural airports, for instance,--Avu Avu, Babanikira, Marau--still remain closed after 13 months of RAMSI's presence. Auki's airport--second only to Henderson--has been closed for months now. When will government come up with a plan that satisfies the land owners? Certainly with the $30 million Treasury saved in June something creative could be fashioned! Could not the newly appointed Minister of State be directed to bring the Auki landing field fiasco to a healthy conclusion and quickly so?

Honiara's residence suffer severe daily water shortages and electricity brown/blackouts are a regular feature of city living.. The shocking-state of the city's feeder roads only encourage enterprising local youth to repair them (charging $5.00 from each passing motorist). City rubbish continues to go uncollected for more than 3 years now. Where is government's response in these matters?

In vain are the pleas to clean out the ineffectual, inept political appointees to the boards of management of national State Owned Enterprises--SIWA, SIEA, etc. Could not major savings be made in streamlining these institutions especially when they perform so poorly. Perhaps the CEMA experience holds a lesson of two for our leaders. Copra and cocoa production is way up not simply because of price increases but because village people have taken over the shipping and buying of these products.

Rick Hou, the Central Bank Governor, repeated much the same message--a village-led economic recovery--in his May review of the country's 2003 economic recovery. Our country snapped out of its economic mess and did it with a bang. It posted an almost impossible 5.8% year's growth pattern before RAMSI's first troops landed on our shores. The bank's Governor singles out village people--the woman gardener, small producers (copra cutters, fishermen, cocoa growers), ordinary Solomon Islanders as the true leaders of the nation's economic turn around.

The Solomons backbone, the little people, didn't hang around waiting for the hand out, the grant, the donor gift but got on with daily living and produced exports--cocoa, copra, sawn timber, sea products, gold nuggets--most time under hardship. Rather than bemoan their fate, listening to political tok tok, worrying what government would or would not do, or waiting for their failed politicians to speak out, the typical Solomon Islander got on with life.

Make no mistake about it. If the country returns to the failed policies of the past--over reliance on big time operations, e.g. SIPL, Taiyo, Gold Ridge, Honiara itself, etc.at the expense of a village-led economic recovery plan, then old fault lines will once again surface. The political elite with their perks, privilege and power will continue to shape a nation that suits them. If, however, there is a strong village focus, perhaps, maybe, there could be a chance of turning this country around for all.

**** ENDS ****

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news