The Vanuatu Government has finally released its official policy directions for 2021 and the next four years which was adopted by the Council of Ministers during their recent meeting in Santo.
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Bob Loughman has stressed on many occasions that the decisions taken in Santo will be beneficial to the people of Luganville and the northern provinces generally in terms of investment, agriculture production and value chain, education, health and other service delivery.
But before 2021, the immediate priority policy now is to address the impacts of COVID 19 and other unprecedented compounded disasters such as the category five Cyclone Harold that are impacting the country’s socio-economic wellbeing and the lives of the citizens.
In the medium to long term the Loughman-led government wants to focus on rebuilding the economy by focusing on the following areas of priority:
-Boosting primary production (Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Forestry) to meet a greater proportion of domestic consumption. It requires an increasing rural production, increasing co-investment opportunities, strengthening capacity for managing biosecurity and border control risks, increasing national sustainable and climate and COVID-19 ready tourist development;
-Strengthening agriculture value chain such as increased processing of raw products, increasing investment in agriculture infrastructure facilities, promoting trade & inter-island trade, industries & cooperatives and creating Economic Development Zones;
-Expanding the Service Sector in businesses that serve the agricultural sector or other sectors such as financial services;
-Infrastructure and equipment with focus on regulations by increasing and diversifying exports, strengthening the management of waste and pests at ports of entry;
-Improved Business Opportunities and Investment Environment
-Improved Resilient Infrastructure
-Improved Education Quality and Accessibility
-Improved Quality Health Care
-Improved Service Delivery
-Improved Resilience and Natural Resource Management
-Social Inclusion, Security, Peace and Justice
Prime Minister Bob Loughman has voiced his strong views that the economic opportunities and activities must be made available and accessible to more local population in the rural communities.
“If more people can contribute to the economic recovery and development, we will be more self-reliant and more resilient to future disasters,” he says adding that Vanuatu must prepare itself for future cyclones and other disasters by producing for food security but also stock enough dry and processed food to meet high demands during disasters.
The Ministerial Budget Committee (MBC) has been meeting since last week to deliberate on the allocations for the 2021 national budget and how best the government can implement its priority policies – the main priority would be to invest government resources into sectors where the country expects much financial returns in the short & medium term in order to boost Vanuatu’s financial and economic recovery.
The Santo Council of Ministers has also passed six (6) papers of the Ministry of Finance as well as the review of the Citizenship Programme which calls for more transparency to the application process as well as expands the scope of sectors that will be benefiting including tourism, infrastructure, productive sector, marine sector, real estates.
The Government of Vanuatu through the ministry of Finance & Economic Management will be issuing soon its national strategies on revenue that is crucial to ensure the Vanuatu Government continues to fund its operations and afford to meet most needed service delivery to the communities.
The Government has earlier on set its top priority agenda for the rest of 2020. Its first priority is to monitor & manage threats against Covid-19, respond to the needs of the people of the islands up north which were badly affected by Cyclone Harold in June and see how best Vanuatu can protect the country’s economic growth dearly impacted by the disasters that are facing the Vanuatu group including the Tanna island ashfall concerns.
The head of the Vanuatu Government Prime Minister Bob Loughman encourages every business houses and all Vanuatu citizens to take time under the conditions of the State Emergency to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the families are safer when a next cyclone strikes and to plant and raise food. “During good times, we must work extra hard to prepare for the next cyclone season”, he said.
In the meantime the Luganville Council of Ministers meeting also resolved that the Ministry of Finance & Economic Management widens up the criteria for eligibility for businesses to access the Financial Stimulus Package.