The Non Executive Members of the Western Provincial Assembly has rejected Premier Billy Veo’s recent statement that the province is not ready for statehood.
Veo mentioned during his speech at the official opening and handing over of Munda Runaway Overlay, Munda New Domestic and Munda International Terminal that “Western Province Is Not Ready for Statehood”.
Premier Veo said that given the lack of necessary economical foundation to sustain statehood over the long haul, Western Province Is Not Ready for Statehood.
He further said that much has been said about the Federal System in the past 20 or so years and especially following the aftermath of the ethnic tension.
He mentioned the lack of infrastructure development to drive the local economy, human resources and technical capabilities, conducive environment for investment and economic growth. So as far as his ACAREA Government is concerned, the Premier said that ‘we are still not ready for statehood’.
For reasons that are shared by the Provincial Assembly and the Peoples of Western Province, the Non-Executive Members of the Western Provincial Assembly deeply rejects Premier Veo’s Statement during the opening and handing of the airport infrastructure.
The shared reasons are as follows:
Western Province contributes 20% of Solomon Islands Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The World Bank estimates that GDP for Solomon Islands in Financial Year 2023 is US$1.69billion. Correspondingly, US$338million comes from Western Province.
Comparatively, Western Province’s Gross Domestic Product, therefore, is higher than that of the Republic of Palau (US$217million), Republic of Kiribati (US$207million), Republic of Nauru (US$133million) and Tuvalu (US$63million).
The Premier failed to realize that Western Province estimated GDP alone is a showcase of the necessary economical foundation to sustain statehood over the long haul.
History shows that political leaders of Western Solomons desired the separation of the region from the British Solomon Islands Protectorate (BSIP) in mid-1970’s. The region’s economic importance, unique history, values and languages are reasons for their preference of more autonomy.
In 1977, a motion was placed in the Legislative Assembly for the separation of the Western Solomons. The motion was later withdrawn.
In 1978, Western Breakaway Movement Working Committee was formed, hence, led to the non-participation of the region in the celebration of Solomon Islands Independence on 7th of July 1978.
Hence, for the Premier to say that much has been said about the Federal System in the past 20 or so years is misleading. For the desire for more autonomy by the leaders of Western Solomons was voiced since the mid-1970’s and not in the past 20 or so years.
A Paper on Facilitation and Granting of the State of Western Solomonsthat was tabled and approved by the Western Provincial (Full) Assembly in March 2023. The Paper argued that the local economy of Western Province is conducive for investment and economic growth to sustain statehood in the long run.
In response to the discussions of the paper, the Western Provincial Assembly resolved:
That Western Province will not celebrate Second Appointed Day on 7thof December 2024.
That State of Western Solomons be unilaterally facilitated, granted and declared on the 7thof December 2024.
The Non-Executive Members strongly rejects, therefore, that for Premier Billy Veo to say that Western Province is not ready for Statehood is contrary to the approved resolutions of Western Provincial Assembly.
Furthermore, the Non-Executive Members strongly rejects that for the Premier to say that as far as his ACAREA Government is concerned, ‘we are still not ready for statehood, unacceptably undermines the resolutions of the Western Provincial Assembly.
So let it be said that Premier Billy Veo in saying that ‘Western Province Is Not Ready for Statehood’ was talking in his individual capacity and did not represent the views of the Western Provincial Assembly and the Peoples of Western Province.
The Non-Executive, therefore, profoundly regrets that the Premier has inadvertently compromised the Decisions of the Full Assembly on Statehood.
In doing so ACAREA is slowly losing its credibility and the confidence of the Provincial Assembly, Communities and Peoples of Western Province to the Western Provincial Government is gradually wearing away.
We are a team of journalists who are passionate about writing and reporting the news. We strive to provide our readers with accurate, timely, and insightful information. We are committed to providing a platform for voices from all walks of life. We believe that democracy depends on an informed citizenry, and we work every day to make sure our readers have access to the latest news and analysis.