WESTERN Province Premier Hon Christian Mesepitu says the Western Provincial Government is deeply concerned with the proposed security treaty with China.
In a statement today, Hon Mesepitu said the Government at no time consulted provincial premiers on the proposed security arrangement.
“Like many other Solomon Islanders, we were only made aware of the security arrangement on social media, and we are indeed very concerned. For contentious issues, the National Government has the moral responsibility towards its agents, as part of consultations, to talk to us, and in some situations, convince us of their position,” he said.
Mesepitu said this is particular concerning when considering the uncertain impacts this new security treaty might have on the proposed patrol boat base in Shortland Islands.
He said the patrol boat base in Shortland is key to our long-term development plan to improve trade, security and enhance the movement and traditional people to people relations at the western border.
“The last thing we would want to see is this patrol boat project compromised as a result of geopolitical differences between our partners which will greatly impact the long term development plan of the facility,” he said.
The Western provincial premier also raised concerns on the question of Solomon Island’s need to diversify its security when we have an existing regional security arrangement.
He said that instead of diversifying security, the government should seriously think about pursuing its decentralization policy.
Mesepitu said a lot of social and economical issues in the country emerged as a result of development being heavily focused in Honiara.
“The lack of proper health care services, education and jobs are some of the pull factors that are causing more people to seek opportunities in Honiara which also resulted in a lot of social problems,” he said.
Mesepitu said decentralization should be the government’s priority policy rather than trying to diversify our security to protect us against our own citizens.
“We should be focused on creating more opportunities and jobs for our people in the provinces, enhance capacity building and human resources to help develop our provincial centres. In line of that, more powers must be given to provinces to manage its own affairs. It is a hard ask but we need to make critical decisions and start somewhere,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Western Premier also expressed concern over the recent leaked diplomatic correspondence requesting arms for an embassy by a development partner.
“We do not need guns to protect us or drive our development ambitions. We need to set our house in order and deal with our own internal problems not by way of guns but empowering our people and making good economic policies that will benefit our country,” he said.