Aust delivers additional $37M COVID-19 support

Australian High Commissioner, Dr Lachlan Strahan, and the Minister for Finance, Harry Kuma, signing a funding agreement
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Australia has provided an additional AUD6 million (SBD$37 Million) to keep Solomon Airlines in the air and to help Solomon Water deliver water to vulnerable communities.

Australian High Commissioner, Dr Lachlan Strahan, and the Minister for Finance, Harry Kuma, signed a funding agreement on Tuesday 4 May to assist these two enterprises to continue vital operations and stimulate economic activity.

Dr Strahan said that Australia was working in line with the Solomon Islands Government’s priorities.

“Australia and Solomon Islands are strong security, development and economic partners,” Strahan said.

“We share similar COVID-19 response goals – to save lives and livelihoods and emerge stronger post-pandemic,” he added.

“Solomon Airlines provides the country’s all important domestic network and its international air bridge.”

Finance minister Kuma said:

“This is timely support that will boost the two state-owned enterprises’ efforts to deliver and maintain efficient services to the people of this country.

“Australia is such a true and loyal friend through thick and thin times, even though you are also affected by the global pandemic.”

Solomon Water will receive AUD5 million (SBD 31 million) to improve water supply, water quality, and to provide basic facilities for vulnerable communities in Honiara and some provincial towns.

Approximately 28,000 people are expected to benefit from improved water supply and sanitation facilities in Honiara, Auki, Tulagi, Noro, and Gizo.

Clean and safe water is vital to meeting the basic daily needs of the population.

Last Friday (30 April), Strahan and the CEO of Solomon Water, Ian Gooden, visited some of the communities around Honiara where Australia’s funding will improve water supply.

This included a community where new pipes will deliver fresh water directly to households, and a dam that will be rehabilitated to improve water quality and a fence erected to protect the water source.

AUD$1 million (SBD$6 million) will be delivered to Solomon Airlines to enable the airline to meet essential training requirements for engineers and crew, purchase aircraft maintenance equipment, and undergo a remote International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit.