SI to benefit from Australia’s major aid snip for the Pacific

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Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela.
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By Gary Hatigeva

SOLOMON Islands is amongst some of the Pacific Island nations that will benefit from an Australian massive aid sourcing, Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela confirms.

Prime Minister Hou revealed this when questioned over his trip to the APEC Summit after presenting the government’s motion of special adjournment, knowing Solomon Islands only holds an observer status to this international body.

The Prime Minister however clarified that within his scheduled trip, he will have a stopover meeting in Brisbane, Australia with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on important matters between the two countries.

He explained that both leaders have important matters to talk about, and added that some of the agenda in the discussion will be over bilateral matters, which will include Canberra’s proposed massive aid injection plans for the Pacific.

“We’ve got a lot to talk to Australia about, and if you might follow in the media, you would hear about the new policy outreach where the government of Australia announced earlier.

“In it, Solomon Islands is in fact the centre pieces of this new development assistance, and I’m hoping to continue discussing more matters with Australia during that time,” Prime Minister Hou explained.

On Wednesday last week, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his government’s adjusted policy intent of a $3billion aid funding, which he revealed for the Pacific Island Nations, and recipients will also include Solomon Islands.

In his speech PM Morrison revealed that the $3billion would use a combination of grants and concessional finance to develop infrastructure and related aspects, which according to reports, would restrict its activities to the Pacific.

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The Prime Minister also announced callable capital of $1 billion for EFIC, Australia’s export credit agency, designed to support SME investment in the Pacific.

Meanwhile, in his respond to questions that were raised over the Special Adjournment regarding his PNG visit, Hou further clarified that it was to allow for the Public Accounts Committee to conduct its inquiry into the 2019 Appropriation Bill and the 2018 Supplementary Bill (2), as well as for him (PM) to attend the APEC Summit.

He said this particular trip to the APEC summit, it’s an invitation by one of the country’s very important friend, Prime Minister Peter O’Neil.

Hou therefore said he saw the invitation as an opportunity to hold discussions with PNG as there is so much to talk about with them.

“It’s not only on the bilateral assistance we get from them, but so as other matters, as now we are talking about the border.

“As for the APEC, it is a gathering of world leaders and it will be first time that it will be hosted by one of us in the region, and that invitation that the Prime Minister O’Neil has made, was extended to all of us Pacific Islands Forum leaders.

“He has made that appeal personally to all of us, and it’s quite important for us to attend, not only for the reason that I have alluded to earlier, but I think in a way, we want to give the support him when he hosted the meeting,” PM Hou shared.

Following his meeting in Australia, Prime Minister Hou revealed that he will accompany Prime Minister Morrison to the World Summit in PNG’s capital, Port Moresby.

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