US advice – Infrastructure and Development Projects in the Region should not leave countries in debt

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DEAR EDITOR, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela most recently praised Japan’s initiative for its connectivity in providing quality infrastructure in the Pacific region.

Specifically, on the cultural dimension of sustainable development, the Prime Minister reportedly said Solomon Islands and other PIF members are looking to strengthen the very basis of their own sustainable development by seriously taking into account their specific and unique cultural dimensions.

“These cultural dimensions will include the consideration of policies, formulation of plans and the implementation of sustainable development programs.

“One in which sustainable development has a working rationale in which it stipulates that the interdependence of economic, intellectual, political, environmental and cultural dimensions must be considered together in the making of policies and plans for the future of Solomon Islands and its people,” he said.

Following closely on the heels of the PM’s statements, Matthew J Matthews, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands is quoted by Radio New Zealand has having said, “Infrastructure development aid projects in the Pacific region should not leave island countries with debt.”

The US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands was expressing concern about Chinese soft loans to Pacific countries.

Mr Matthews said the US urged China to adhere to the development approach of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank in the Pacific.

Quoting more from the Radio New Zealand news bulletin on 22 May 2018, Mr Mathews went on to say it was essential for the long term economic prospects of Pacific Islands that infrastructure and development assistance projects are free and fair.

“Projects, regardless of the donor, should be transparent,” he added

“They should [have] high standards and high impact and follow international rules and norms that are designed to ensure that projects in the region provide economic sustainability and the ability of borrowers to repay loans in a timely fashion and generate greater economic potential for the countries in question,” Mr Matthews commented.

“Clearly, China has dramatically increased its funding into the region. A lot of lending.”

“We want to make sure that that lending takes place in a way that’s constructive and that helps grow the economies in the Pacific Islands makes them healthier, make them more prosperous,” Mr Matthews said.

“If they can follow that kind of pathway, great… if they look at the approach of Australia and New Zealand, the United States, Japan, other traditional donors in the region that have been working you know over the longer term to improve economic outcomes in the Pacific, I think will be a good place.”

 

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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