A substantial amount of money was remitted to the country by Solomon Islanders employed in Australia under Australia’s Seasonal Workers Programme (SWP) and in New Zealand under New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) over the past.
The Supervising Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon Manasseh Maelanga revealed this in Parliament today when asked by the Leader of the Independent Group, Hon Derek Sikua about ‘the level of financial benefit Solomon Islands has derived from remittances’ from Solomon Islands seasonal workers in Australia and New Zealand.
“The sum of money being remitted to the country for the past years is believed to be substantial although there is no record to prove that,” Hon Maelanga said.
However, he added that, “For the recent past season, with the use of the newly installed data system and LMU (Labour Mobility Unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade) Post Return Form, there is a record that a sum of SBD$16.6-Million has been injected into the economy from the RSE Programme and an estimate of between SBD$7Million-$10-Million from SWP.
“There are also workers who build and own houses in town that can be valued up to a million dollar respectively. Some seasonal workers now own transport businesses of up to three cars and more success stories are out there,” the Supervising Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade further added.
In terms of the numbers of Solomon Islanders currently employed in Australia under SWP, the Supervising Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade said there are 35 Solomon Islands seasonal workers in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
He added that one of the biggest seasonal workers’ recruiter in Australia ‘Seven Fields’ will visit Solomon Islands from the 13th to 17th of this month (March) to carry out another ‘big’ recruitment exercise.
As for the RSE, Minister Maelanga said over the years 3,639 Solomon Islanders have participated in this programme to date and some of them have been employed for more than one season.
He said for the current season ‘2016/2017’, Solomon Islands has already secured 609 spaces and most of those who secured those spaces have already left for New Zealand.
The Supervising Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade said the final recruitment for the current season will take place this month (March) for about 30 workers, adding that this is an increase of 7.3 percent from the previous season.
Solomon Islands has been participating in the SWP and RSE since 2007/2008.