Following separate internal reviews, both the Solomon Islands Government and Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) are confident that RAMSI’s exit on 30 June this year will have very little impact on the Solomon Islands economy.
Today, RAMSI is solely a police assistance mission whose staff live without their families on the RAMSI base in East Honiara and the base is self-sufficient in terms of food, electricity, water, office space and transport. Only a very small number of RAMSI’s senior officers live with their families in rented accommodation outside the base.
The RAMSI Special Coordinator, Quinton Devlin, said that RAMSI planners had learnt from the Timor Leste experience and, from Day One, RAMSI had deliberately run its operations in a way that avoided creating an unsustainable impact on the local economy.
He also explained that RAMSI’s drawdown had been very gradual, so any economic impact had already been largely absorbed.
The Special Coordinator also underlined that the Australian and New Zealand bilateral policing programs, which will commence on 1 July 2017, would off-set the impact of RAMSI’s departure because the Australian and New Zealand police advisers would be accompanied by their family members, who will be living and eating in the community and visiting all parts of the country. Staff will also be on concentrated housing compounds, minimizing the impact to the local rental market. The new bilateral programs will equally have a complement of locally engaged staff assisting with their mission objectives.
Mr Devlin added: “By bringing their loved ones to Solomon Islands, the men and women from the Australian and New Zealand police services were demonstrating their genuine confidence in the ability of the Solomon Islands Government and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force in maintaining law and order, peace and stability in the country after RAMSI leaves’.
The Solomon Islands Government Special Secretary to RAMSI, John Wasi, confirmed that the Solomon Islands Government’s own assessment was the RAMSI’s departure would have a minimal impact on the Solomon Islands economy.
“They will be sending their children to our schools, buying food at our markets, eating at our restaurants, living in our houses, hiring our haus meres, gardeners and security guards, and visiting our resorts. The new police assistance programs will be an economic win for us,” he said.
RAMSI has been drawing down for many years with the agreement of the national government. This included the exit of the military component and the shifting of the responsibility for supporting government ministries from RAMSI to bilateral donors in 2013.