BY ALEX DADAMU
THE State of Public Emergency (SOPE) will lapse on July 25th, 2020 and the Government in the next few weeks will deliberate on whether or not we will need to extend the state of public emergency.
The Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare in his nationwide address last week on Friday, July 3rd revealed that the cabinet in the next few weeks will deliberate on important matters, including whether or not to extend the State of Public Emergency (SOPE).
“As you are all aware, the state of public emergency will lapse in July 25th, 2020 the government will keep the public informed when a decision is reached, however, as I stated earlier, we must not let our guards down,” Sogavare said.
He further stated that with the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in neighboring countries, and the government will not take any chances that will risk the lives of citizens.
“This fight is far from and I would like to reassure my good people of Solomon Islands that the government is taking our approach to keeping our country covered 19 free very, very seriously.
“We acknowledged that the risk is real, but so is our collective commitment to keep the virus from reaching our shores,” Prime Minister Sogavare said.
In the meantime, however, in a statement last month on 18th June 2020, Opposition Leader, Matthew Wale has called on the government not to extend the state of emergency period.
Hon. Wale urged the government not to consider extending the emergency period stating that the country has done well so far and it’s time to focus all efforts on COVID-19 border control and open the country’s domestic economy to stimulate consumer demand, food security and internal tourism and transport.
Hon. Wale pointed out that, “Our people have, of course, accepted the need to invoke the state of emergency then because it was necessary and reasonable given the prevailing circumstances.
“The circumstances then were; infected people were dying around the world and the Solomon Islands was ill-prepared to deal with any outbreak. The swift declaration of the state of emergency, therefore, was welcomed by the people, for it safeguarded their health and safety.”
He said the situation however has changed, and we now have a preparedness plan with financial backing secured, isolation, and detention centers in high-risk zones, PPE and test machines here, trained front liners and the public are now more aware of the disease than before.
“At the same time too, the health pandemic and our internal restrictive measures (including state of emergency) had also negatively impacted our economy and our people’s livelihoods. The majority of our people who rely on the informal sector quickly lost their little means of earnings, and are now faced with uncertain futures,” Opposition Leader Hon. Wale said.
According to the latest survey conducted by the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), Businesses in the country continue to face the financial impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
SICCI stated that this is the second survey the Chamber has conducted on its members and the wider business community in its efforts to identify key challenges faced by businesses as a result of COVID-19 considering the important role that businesses play in creating jobs, in long-lasting economic growth, development, and prosperity.
The survey reported that Ninety-seven percent (97%) of respondents reported COVID-19 having a financial impact on their business with forty-seven percent (47%) reported a high financial impact.
Further, twenty-six percent (26%) do not have access to any funding to manage this impact.
The SICCI survey noted that the Government’s Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) is offering some relief for struggling businesses.
“The ESP’s Soft Measures, a $25 million allocation for tariff reduction, rental relief and loan repayment relief, is identified to be the most helpful by forty percent (40%) of respondents.
“Over half of the respondents (57%) state that the general situation of their businesses has been the same since the last SICCI survey, whereas, thirty-four percent (34%) report that their general business situation had worsened.
“Only nine percent (9%) state that the general business situation for their business had improved since the last survey, which was conducted in May 2020,” the SICCI survey reported.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare urged Solomon Islanders that despite the current status as COVID-19 free country, he stated that we must remain attentive more than ever.
“This global pandemic tested our resolve, but by the grace and protection of God, we still remain COVID-19 Free to God be the glory. Great things he has done.”