By Georgina Kekea
The call for submissions to access the economic stimulus package will be published starting today, and for the next two weeks.
The Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare made this announcement in his weekly statement. He said the government has not lost sight of its responsibilities.
Sogavare said the Government is fully aware of its responsibility to ensure fiscal stability and to counter negative growth within the domestic economy while also safeguarding the basic needs and livelihood of the general population.
“The stimulus package of SBD$319 Million with its implementation framework and guidelines will facilitate the disbursement of funding allocations”, Sogavare said.
A committee made up of government officials and related agencies are working on the stimulus package.
The committee is headed by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can apply for support as funding will be made available through the Development Bank of Solomon Islands (DBSI).
SMEs that are in operations for at least two years before the COVID-19 pandemic can seek support from the government.
The facility will support existing production in cocoa, copra, kava, noni, cassava, and other export commodities.
Experts say that how countries fare will depend largely on whether their governments have the necessary fiscal space to finance their stimulus packages and on how quickly COVID-19 is contained around the world.
They say such stimulus packages can only be sustainable in the short term. If the pandemic is prolonged, Pacific island governments will find it challenging. High debt burdens could translate into weak growth prospects going forward.
On the plus side major international creditors such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have already offered to provide debt relief to some low-income countries. Such steps will assist the Solomon Islands, but exclude most Pacific island countries as they are middle-income.