Weak revenue trend predicted for SI as logging exports decline: IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecasted the country’s revenue trend to be weak with the decline in logging exports.
Speaking to the local media today, IMF representative (Mission Chief of the Solomon Islands) Masafumi Yabara said it will be a challenge for the country to see another sector replace the logging industry as it is the country’s main revenue earner.
“We see sectors such as tourism, mining, agriculture, and fisheries could grow going forward, but the country’s economy has been largely dependent on the logging sector, and this is now declining.
We have recommended the authorities to address the structural challenges, including land registration, if the revenue gap by the logging industry is to be addressed.”
Mr. Yabara said they have discussed with the government and its stakeholders, to develop the mining sector to become one of the country’s main revenue earners.
He adds, the IMF has also called for the establishment of strong governance and fiscal regimes for the mining sector. This is through the finalization of a Mining Act and re-joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to ensure benefits from the sector are maximized.
Landowners of the Siruka Nickel Mining Project in Choiseul Province in 2020 expressed concerns on the government’s decision to expedite the necessary mineral rights requirements for three mining companies.
This decision was said to put landowners at a disadvantage as they would be vulnerable to exploitation by mining companies under the country’s current mines and minerals act.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines, Energy, and Rural Electrification, Dr. Chris Vehe in an interview with SIBC last year confirms the country’s reviewed mining bill is currently in the draft stage with the Attorney General’s Office.
He said work on the bill has been slow as the first draft was not in line with what the Mines Division wants.
SIBC News understands that under the current Mines Act, there is no tender process when dealing with mining companies; instead, it is on a first come, first-serve basis.
The mining bill, once completed, will address loopholes in the mining sector and ensure the country’s mineral resources are properly regulated and managed.
In 2020, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare also highlighted in his COVID-19 national address, that Western Province has high potential to become one of the country’s main development supporters through the mining sector.
This is from Shortland’s in the western end to Gatokae in the eastern end of the province.
He said his government is committed to working closely with the western provincial government to ensure mining operations benefit the people.
Earlier that same year, the government also made the move to fast-track the necessary mineral rights requirements for three mining companies: Solomon Island Company Limited, Solomon Islands Resources Company Limited, and Wining Resources Company Limited.
By Sharon Nanau