$1.4 BILLION GIFT

5
Money

Australia’s PM leaves behind 10-year bilateral infrastructure programme for Solomon Islands

 

By EDDIE OSIFELO

SOLOMON Islands will receive a bilateral infrastructure programme, worth up to $1.425 billion (AUD$250 million) in grant financing over 10 years.

The programme will support key national and economic infrastructure and will complement the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific.

This was confirmed in the joint statement by Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare released yesterday.

Both prime ministers met yesterday in Honiara to celebrate Australia and Solomon Islands’ partnership as ‘true wantoks’.

As two proud sovereign nations in the Pacific family, Australia and Solomon Islands enjoy a close friendship and a shared history that was further strengthened by our partnership in the 14-year Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

As Solomon Islands celebrates the success of its first democratic election since RAMSI, Australia stands proudly as a partner and a friend.

Consistent with the Australian Government’s enhanced Pacific engagement, Australia and Solomon Islands will continue to work closely together to boost our engagement by strengthening community bonds and tackling common challenges.

“We will work together to enhance economic growth and development in Solomon Islands,” the statement said.

Further to that, Australia will partner with Solomon Islands to commission a scoping and cost-benefit assessment of the national transport core (NTC) initiative, which would connect 74 percent of the population and 37 constituencies in its first 10-year phase and ultimately link all 50 constituencies and 100 percent of the population by 2035.

As part of the funding, Australia will also support the building of a new Prime Minister’s Office/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade complex.

Australia will work on an initial design for a new, modern building to meet Solomon Islands vision of a transformed Honiara CBD.

“Solomon Islands recognised the crucial importance to the country’s economic future of sound management of its mineral wealth and to that end committed to enacting reforms that will ensure global best practice in the governance and regulation of the mining sector.

“Working together to enhance opportunities for labour mobility delivers benefits for both Australia and Solomon Islands,” the statement said.

Labour mobility helps fill labour shortages in rural and regional Australia while helping Pacific workers develop valuable skills and take up work opportunities.

To ensure that the opportunity to work in Australia is available to all Solomon Islanders – including those in remote provinces and rural areas – Australia will provide $15.39 million (A$2.7 million) over three years to deliver additional support for recruitment and mobilisation of Solomon Islands workers to Australia.

PM Morrison and wife Jenny left Honiara yesterday afternoon, on the way to London to meet British economic and security officials before representing Australia at the 75th-anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings in Portsmouth on June 5.