Mr. Lilo will go down in history as the first Prime Minister to attend Temotu’s Second Appointed Day celebrations since it separated from Makira/Ulawa province 29 years ago.
The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the former leaders of the province including one-time Governor General Sir John Ini Lapli who also attended the celebrations.
Temotuans from all walks of life stood-still for about 30 minutes to listen to their Prime Minister delivered his address.
In addressing the people, Mr. Lilo assured the people that although Temotu Province is remote from Honiara, it remains an important and equal player in Solomon Islands in all phases and forms of development.
Speaking at the Lata field, Mr. Lilo said as a geographically scattered country just as Temotu, connecting the disconnected, lingers as a crucial challenge which successive governments have juggled with and his government is no exception, as “we continue to explore ways to ensure connectivity.”
The Prime Minister said: “Connecting our peoples in the most efficient way is essential to empower our rural masses to contribute meaningfully to the developments of their province and our country,” he said.
In saying that, Mr. Lilo acknowledged that there were many gaps that must be fixed and Government’s policies should be robust to deliver results on the ground, it must connect the disconnected.
He said that the Government is working pretty hard to achieve connectives in all the provinces.
“Your remoteness and smallness are among the core challenges that require attention and cooperation by all Temotuans to find answers to. It is a challenge that also requires teamwork and obligation by Temotuans, the Province and National Governments.
"In our responses to these challenges it is paramount that there is evident of firmness and assertiveness at the provincial government in its endeavours to consolidate and deliver social justice through education, health and other social benefits,” Prime Minister Lilo said.
He said in helping the province to bridge its remoteness, the Government will in turn, build infrastructures, communication networks and airstrips.
To spontaneous applauses from Temotuans, Prime Minister Lilo announced that the Government will improve the Lata airport and its wharf in Temotu Nende, build an airstrip at Lomlom in Temotu Pele and acquire a ship for Vatud.
The Prime Minister said he hoped that when these infrastructures and services are put in place they would make it easier for the people to get connected.
Strengths of Temotu
He said besides that in any society its strength lies in its human resources and Temotu is no exception.
“If you can invest and prioritize your human resources developments then undoubtedly you will be able to advance on many fronts taking into account your abundant fisheries and marine resources,” the PM said.
Mr. Lilo also believed that Temotu is well positioned to benefit greatly from neighouring Vanuatu given that it is one of the tourism hubs in the region.
“I encourage you to think positively about the tourism potentials that can be realized through our link with Vanuatu so that you can ride on the opportunity presented by our Melanesian neighbors as they are one of the tourism hubs of the Pacific. Vanuatu, given its development in tourism, can create opportunities for tourism investment in Temotu,” Mr. Lilo said.
The Prime Minister said the planned trade and investment arrangement will not only benefit Temotu but also the entire Solomon Islands.
He said that the success of the cross-border trade between Temotu and Vanuatu can also be applied to the Western and Choiseul Provinces who share a common border with Papua New Guinea.
In a show of his Government support to Temotuans four ministers also attended the Second Appointed Day celebrations. They included: Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Clay Forau Soalaoi, Minister of Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening Silas Tausinga, Minister of Police and National Security David Tome, Minister of Legal Affairs and Justice Commins Mewa.
Temotu Premier Fr. Brown Beu said his people were honoured to host the Prime Minister and it was also the first time that more ministers had visited his province at one time.
Bishop George Takeli of the Diocese of Temotu also shared the same sentiment saying that all Temotuans were very happy to see their prime minister for the first time.
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