BY MIKE TUA
THE people of Guadalcanal are demanding “Inclusive Change and Sustainable Development,” Guadalcanal Province Premier Francis Belande Sade said on Friday 31 July, calling on national government and provincial government leaders to use the theme for this year’s 36th Anniversary of the Guadalcanal Province Second Appointed Day celebrations to plan and deliver in action for the people of Guadalcanal.
His call for concrete action was the cornerstone of his address to national government and Guadalcanal leaders attending the 36th Second Appointed Day celebration in Visale, North-West Guadalcanal.
Honourable Sade observed that this year’s celebrations theme, “Empowering Our People for Inclusive Change and Sustainable Development” is an important theme to reflect on and urged leaders to dwell on its importance for the good of the people of Guadalcanal.
“This occasion provides us the opportunity to reflect on our Province’s past experiences and map new and alternative futures.
“For Guadalcanal Province, the past 36 years were marked by achievements as well as challenges. Our biggest challenge was the violent civil unrest that started on this island. We have learned a lot from that and the costs, not only to Guadalcanal but the entire country. Despite these challenges, we are a resilient people determined to work hard to improve and create better futures,” he said.
Premier Francis Belande Sade was elected in July 2019 and it was his first stint as a politician, “In the past year, I have learned a lot about our province and politics in our country. It has been challenging, but also rewarding. I continue to learn from this experience and sincerely appreciate the assistance of my Executive, the Provincial Assembly, the Provincial Secretary and the administration team, and our Guadalcanal people”, according to the Premier Sade.
Meanwhile, “for me, the task of “empowering people” does not necessarily mean government doing everything. Rather, it is about providing people with the tools and opportunities to make appropriate choices and create better wellbeing for themselves,” he pointed out.
“This includes giving them skills through our education system, providing them access to credits, access to markets for their products, and to a broad range of other opportunities. It is about creating a social and economic environment where our people can be creative and productive.
“The term ‘inclusive change’ simply means including our people in decision-making and in the implementation of those decisions in order to create positive changes. That is the essence of good governance. “Sustainable development” is a term that has been thrown around for a long time, both in Solomon Islands and elsewhere. At the core, it simply means development that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. This also means sustaining the values that have kept our societies together for thousands of years.”
‘To Ensure Sustainable Development’
And in all these areas, he questioned, “What roles could and should the Provincial Government play in empowering our people? How do we include them in decision-making to ensure sustainable development?
“As you reflect on those questions, let me underline the rationale behind the current Guadalcanal Provincial Government’s policies, administrative restructuring and the tasks we have undertaken during our first year in office. Our goal is to make Guadalcanal Province debt-free, financially independent and sustainable. I know that some people may think this is an impossible dream. We think it is possible, if we harness and properly manage the resources we have so that they benefit Guadalcanal Province and its people.
“We have enough resources on this island to be economically self-sufficient. For us, this is not just a dream. It’s a plan. We challenge the National Government and Development Partners to help us achieve this plan by assisting us put in place institutional structures, regulations, enforcement mechanism and building the capacity to achieve this goal. This will, in the long term, be good for National Government and our country. Also, it will prepare Guadalcanal for the proposed federal system of government, which this Provincial Government supports.
“So, what have we been doing in the past year to achieve this goal? The Guadalcanal Provincial Government has been working on fiscal policy, administrative reforms, service sector, the management of provincial assets and properties, the PCDF, Guadalcanal Province townships, the Honiara City boundary, and land issues.”