PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare says the intention to have local content in infrastructure development is a positive step in infrastructure development in the country.
Speaking during the opening of the SICCI Infrastructure Symposium in Honiara today, he said there is an increasing trend in local content requirements imposed by governments worldwide in the effort to improve employment and industrial performance domestically.
Prime Minister Sogavare said local content can result in job creation, increase use of domestic resources supporting local industries and positive spill over impacts to the overall economy, as it emphases on the use of domestic goods and supply services amongst other measures.
“Therefore, the intent to prioritise local content in infrastructure development in Solomon Islands is not only important but very timely as well given the impacts faced by the economy due to the global pandemic,” he said.
Looking forward, the Prime Minister said we must also bear in mind the urgent need to focus on the recovery of our economy to ensure that we have a vibrant economy that can adequately support our people and country in the next 2 to 5 years.
Prime Minister Sogavare said the private sector is expected to play a key role in infrastructure development.
“Private investment is expected to take advantage of opportunities arising in developments in ICT and digital infrastructures as well as increased trade opportunities in the medium to long term as a result of increased and better connectivity and also improved supply chains,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said whatever outcome reached from this Infrastructure Symposium, must also consider the downsides of local content.
He said the short term impacts of local content policy and local content requirement must be carefully thought through and balanced against its long term impact on the infrastructure industry and the economy as a whole.
“I understand that SICCI has done a consultation with businesses from the building and construction industry from 26th May to 4th June 2021 and that common themes and issues were raised,” he said.
Prime Minister Sogavare said he expect these issues to be thoroughly discussed during this two-day workshop by both the public and private sector, and most importantly with donor partners.
“I make specific mention of our donor partners because most of these huge infrastructure development is funded by them,” he said.