By EDDIE OSIFELO
SOLOMON Islands’ effort to remain a covid-19 free nation has been boosted with $71 million assistance from the Australian government.
This was made possible after Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Jeremiah Manele and Australia High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Dr Lachlan Strahan signed a funding agreement in Cabinet yesterday.
Minister Manele said the budget support provided by Australia we have witnessed today will greatly assist the Solomon Islands Government to meet some of its COVID-19 preparedness and response activities, and assist with managing the social and economic impact faced by Solomon Islands due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the Health Sector COVID-19 response, with amount equivalent to AUD8 million (approximately SBD43.7 million), this will include support the isolation and quarantine infrastructure requirements, logistics, medical equipment, personal protection equipment, laboratory equipment including COVID testing kits, water and sanitation projects, surge personal or technical assistance in Honiara and throughout the provinces.
Manele said for the government’s Economic Stimulus COVID-19 Response Plan, with an amount equivalent to AUD 5 million (approximately SBD27.3 million), this will support the government’s Economic stimulus package launched this week.
“We would like to see labour mobility support be boosted and invest in equipping Solomon Islands National University to train semi-skilled workers to enter the Pacific Labour scheme.
“More projects labour intensive infrastructure projects in the rural areas and people centred economic activities in the provinces would be targeted,” he said.
Manele said Australia’s SBD $71 million COVID-19 Assistance package to Solomon Islands symbolises our two countries strong friendship and mutually beneficial relationship that both our two countries and peoples have enjoyed over the years.
“Though the support provided is specifically in response to COVID-19, I understand Australia’s ongoing support and commitment to assist us in meeting our national development goals under its bilateral programme remain.
“For this, I want to register my deep appreciation to Australia for its unwavering support,” he said.
“Excellency, rest assured, your government’s budget support towards our COVID-19 response will towards the two areas mention earlier and as agreed by our countries.
“I would also like to reiterate that we are committed in ensuring good governance practices are in place as well as adhering to the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness principles,” he added.
Minister of Finance and Treasury, Harry Kuma, Minister of Health and Medical Services, Dickson Mua, their permanent secretaries, McKinnie Dentana, Pauline McNeil, Collin Beck of Foreign Affairs, Secretary to Prime Minister, Dr Jimmy Rodgers and officials have witnessed the signing.