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Solomon Islands looks for Pacific Games to drive economic growth

Solomon Islands looks for Pacific Games to drive economic growth
June 2, 2023

Counting down to its hosting of the Pacific Games from 19th November and 2nd December, the Solomon Islands is anticipating that staging the event will deliver a major boost to its economy.

Set to stage the Games for the first time, the Solomon Island's Government is reportedly predicting that it will generate US$60 million (A$60 million) from an anticipated 5,000 visitor arrivals.

In addition, Business Advantage PNG suggests that the major infrastructure spend in the lead-up to the Games, plus other investments and opportunities, will drive the nation’s economy forward.

Outlining the financial challenges facing the Solomon Islands, Business Advantage PNG reported Luke Forau, Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, as claiming there were signs of a recovery with the Games expected to play a key role in that.

According to the Business Advantage PNG, the overall spend for the continental multi-sport event is US$282 million (A$540 million), a figure that includes the cost of upgrading sporting facilities and improving transport infrastructure to be able to host the Pacific Games.

Kishti Sen, economist for the ANZ Banking Group, told the Business Advantage PNG, that the investment can help to boost the country’s finances, advising "Solomon Islands can have a thriving mixed economy sooner than some of its Pacific neighbours.”

In staging the Games, which incurred a four-month delay blamed on COVID-19, the country has benefit from the financial assistance of many nations including Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

It was announced earlier this month that the New Zealand Government would offer US$1.9 million (NZ$3 million) to the Solomon Islands to assist with its preparations for the Games.

China is providing significant backing for the Pacific Games with approximately U$222 million in funding, including for construction of the main stadium.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has said that hosting the event means the country cannot hold a general election in 2023 and has had his term extended beyond the constitutional limit of four years in a move critics say is a power grab and undemocratic.

The International Monetary Fund urged the Solomon Islands in February to ensure spending on this year's Pacific Games and the delayed general election are "well controlled to minimise the crowding out of other essential spending".

Peter Stewart, Chief Executive of the Sol2023 Games Organising Committee, commented “the Pacific Games is the most significant sports event on the Oceania calendar, bringing together athletes from all the Island nations.”

Since the inaugural event in 1963, New Caledonia have dominated the medal tally at the Pacific Games with 911 gold medals, followed by French Polynesia's with a total of 517 golds.

Image: The Honiara Stadium, centrepiece for the upcoming 2023 Pacific Games, approaching completion early last month. Credit: 2023 Pacific Games Stadium Project.

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