PAPUA New Guinea investments in the Solomon Islands will hit the SB$1 billion (K376 million) mark by next year which is encouraging for both countries, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare said in Honiara on Tuesday.
“I am pleased to note that around 23 Papua New Guinean companies are an integral part of this economic revival in the Solomon Islands, having already made investments of about SB$800 million (K301 million) to your economy,” Sir Michael said.
The companies that have made substantial investments in the Solomon Islands include Bank South Pacific, Lamana Hotels, New Britain Palm Oil Ltd, Bishop Brothers, KK Kingston, Nawae Construction and Brian Bell.
“Like Prime Minister (Dr Derek) Sikua, I am encouraged by the fact that this Papua New Guinean investment will hit the SB$1 billion mark by 2010.
“For this, I commend these pioneering Papua New Guinean companies for heeding my Government’s call to explore investment opportunities in a Melanesian neighbourhood.”
The Prime Minister said in his farewell statement in Honiara on Tuesday evening at a reception he hosted to formally mark the end of his official visit to the Solomon Islands.
“Reaching this significant money mark will not signal the end of PNG investment and assistance in the Solomon Islands.”
“On the contrary, I had frank and fruitful discussions with Prime Minister Sikua on how to progress these and other bilateral issues.”
Sir Michael said among the issues discussed is the need to immediately begin negotiations for an investment promotion & protection agreement (IPPA) and a double taxation treaty (DTT).
“When concluded, these agreements will provide added assurance to our private sector to undertake further investment in the Solomon Islands.
“Equally, these agreements will, for the long term, also allow Solomon Island companies to explore business opportunities in Papua New Guinea,” Sir Michael said
He said this shows that while PNG also encounters many similar development challenges, it would not be deterrence from continuing to provide assistance to a very close friend.
“Papua New Guinea is committed to expanding and strengthening its development cooperation with the Solomon Islands when the current development co-operation arrangements expire.”
Sir Michael also witnessed the signing of the contract that will see work commence on the new Papua New Guinea High Commission Chancery in Honiara.