Governor General Sir David Vunagi has commended the United States continuous commitment to Solomon Islands development aspirations.
He says the USAID active engagement to increase its work programs and support transformative projects and the inclusion of Solomon Islands into the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) threshold program is a positive step.
“These are initiatives that will lead to attracting genuine foreign investment and development into Solomon Islands,” he says while receiving the letter of credence from the New Ambassador of the United States to Solomon Islands, PNG and Vanuatu Erin Elizabeth McKee in a ceremony at the Government House today.
He says the depletion of logging stocks in the coming years will adversely affect Solomon Islands economic growth, exports, and public finances, therefore new drivers of economic growth are needed.
“Solomon Islands is venturing into building partnership and cooperation to strengthen its growth sectors, especially the Agriculture sector and Tourism sector – therefore genuine foreign investment and shared partnership into these sectors is the way forward.
“As a Democratic State, we believe in the promotion of the rule of law, human rights, good governance and transparency; as embedded in our National Constitution.
“Our people have enjoyed access to basic services such as health, gender equality, economic empowerment, education and justice. Citizens have been able to pursue their freedoms in a peaceful and stable environment. In one way or the other, these were all achieved through cordial friendship and partnership with the United States and we thank you for that.
“…we have great challenges and great opportunities, and with the help of the United States in terms of development cooperation and security partnership, we will meet these challenges and opportunities together and make this year and onward the best in our history,” he says.
At the same time, Ambassador Erin Elizabeth McKee says it is a tremendous privilege to represent the United States of America to this important Pacific Island nation.
“The United States cares about the Pacific and is here to stay.
“I care about the Pacific and am thrilled with the opportunity to serve here. I am a fourth generation native Californian – born on the Pacific Coast, raised on the Pacific shores, and it is from this mighty Ocean that I derive my strength and my drive, and which I rely upon for my tranquility.
As we move forward together on our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific we will deepen our partnership and together we will define our future.
“Solomon Islands is a young democracy, but a country that shares Western values, values planted by generations of Western missionaries and educators serving throughout these islands; forged in the sharp crucible of the Second World War, with your citizens serving, fighting and dying side by side with U.S. troops and their allies; and refined by the experience of self-government upon independence.
“Our shared history provides us with opportunities we can further build upon and during the next few years, I hope to engage, expand, and execute on three priority objectives:
Deepen our security partnership by increasing cooperation with our respective security forces.
Build prosperity in the region by advocating for sustained, mutually advantageous and high-quality commercial investment by American companies and other investors that conforms to best practices for transparency, good governance, rule of law and debt sustainability (vs. servitude) and;
Promote good governance and transparency at all levels of government and civil society, with a focus on gender equality and empowering women.