MINISTER of National Planning and Development Coordination, Hon. Rexson Ramofafia has acknowledged the US Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) for recognising Solomon Islands to qualify for MCC Threshold Program, and congratulated Viru harbour community for being the first community selected to participate in the Forest Carbon Activity under the Forest Value Enhancement Project (FoVEP) of the MCC Solomon Islands Threshold Program (SITHP).
Minister Ramofafia and a high-level Solomon Islands Government (SIG) delegation which consist of four permanent secretaries, joined Ms. Alicia Phillips Mandaville the Vice President of Policy and Evaluation at the MCC, and SITHP team to visit Viru Harbour in New Georgia Island, Western Province on Friday 19th May, 2023 and met with Viru harbour community, landowning groups and trustees of the forest carbon activity site.
“On behalf of the SIG and the people of Solomon Islands, I would like to thank the MCC for recognising Solomon Islands to qualify for the Threshold Program and the US Government for this partnership. Congratulations Viru Harbour community for being the first recipient of the Forest Carbon Activity under the FoVEP component of the program,” Minister Ramofafia said.
The Ministry of National Planning and Development Coordination (MNPDC) under Minister Ramofafia’s leadership and Permanent Secretary, Ms Susan Sulu played a leading role in the negotiation process of the MCC Threshold program on behalf of SIG which started in 2019, with grant agreement of USD20 million (SBD166 million) eventually signed in January 2022.
The MCC Solomon Islands Threshold Program has two project components, the FoVEP and the Accessing Land for Tourism Investment Facilitation (ALTIF) Project. The SITHP program aims to reduce poverty by assisting the government in addressing the country’s biggest constraints to economic growth: ineffective management of natural resources in the forestry sector and lack of secure access to land which limits tourism investment.
Ms. Alicia Phillips Mandaville the Vice President of Policy and Evaluation at the MCC, said she was happy to visit the first FoVEP project site at Viru harbour and meet the people in person after a lot of negotiations which started back in 2019.
Ms Alicia said MCC is excited to be partnering with the SIG and the people of Viru harbour on the carbon activity project.
MNPDC Permanent Secretary Ms. Sulu encouraged the community to work together with implementing partners, Nakau, Live and Learn and Natural Resources Development Foundation (NRDF) on the implementation of the project.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Forestry and Research Dr Vaeno Vigulu said his Ministry and the Ministry responsible for environment will monitor and assist in the implementation of FoVEP component of the program.
“Our economy for the last three or four decades up to today still depend on timber. However, carbon is a new commodity that we can trade with investors and buyers outside Solomon Islands so that we can inject new revenue in our national economy that can benefit everyone,” Dr Vigulu told the Viru Community.
Dr Melchior Mataki, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) encouraged Viru community to work together to support the program.
“The hope of this country, on potential MCC Compact program depends on how we perform on this Threshold program. That is why we must work together and support this program so that if we do good on it, it can convince MCC SITHP that SIG can go into a bigger Compact program,” Dr Mataki said.
MCC’s threshold program assists promising candidate countries to become compact eligible by offering them the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to just and democratic governance, economic freedom, and investments in their people.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Bunyan Sivoro led the MCC team to visit tourism investible sites in the Munda region that has generated interest from potential investors. The aim is to see how MCC-SITHP program can support investors when they actually make the decision to invest on those islands.
- MNPDC Press