HIGH cost of living has been a problem in Solomon Islands for many years now.
Opposition Leader Hon Matthew Wale highlighted during his Budget Debate speech in Parliament on Monday this week.
Hon Wale said food, housing, transportation, school fees; communications are significant costs in household budgets across the country.
With an already severely depressed economy from covid-19, he said the inflationary pressure has further increased the cost of living for many Solomon Islanders.
“And one has to admit there is an absence of robust policy responses to these. There is no coherent policy on food security and access to healthy affordable food. And what is masquerading as policy is funded with token allocations that betray the insincerity of the policy,” he said.
The Opposition Leader adds there certainly is no policy on effective affordable public transportation.
But for private sector engagement, Hon Wale said public transportation would be an even more difficult service to access.
“And there is no policy on housing beyond public service needs. This absence of policy on housing for Solomon Islanders is why young indigenous Solomon Islanders are priced out of the urban land market. And the fee-free education policy is clearly failing to keep kids in schools as education has become more expensive,” he adds.
Hon Wale said the absence of well thought-out policy on these important elements of the cost of living is the reason why it is such a persistent problem in our economy.
He said if government’s focus is on the people, it would take responsibility for the high cost of living and respond appropriately.
“Is it too much to expect government to lead here?” he questioned.
The Opposition Leader said even public servants have not had a cost of living adjustment for a number of years.
“Many public servants are struggling to feed their households and are on perpetual borrowing to make ends meet. If government is not addressing the plight of its own workers, there is much less interest in the rest of the workforce. This is a sad situation indeed,” Hon Wale said.