TARGETING DEVELOPMENT AID AND SUPPORT TO THE SOLOMON ISLANDS

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DEAR EDITOR,
He karanga ki Aotearoa
Solomon Islands new Prime Minister, Rick Hou, according to a SIG press release, during early December called for closer cooperation between Solomon Islands and its Development partners in order to further progress socio-economic development in the country.

In his address at the opening of the 2017 Second Joint Solomon Islands-Development Partners Dialogue in Honiara on 6 December 2017, Prime Minister Hou said for too long the Government has left our development partners in the cold which has negatively affected the progress of important government programmes.

The dialogue gathered together top representatives from the donor community and senior officials from the Solomon Islands Government to chart a new direction to move the country forward.

 “My Government will take extra efforts in working closely with each and every one of our development partners as we work towards our common goal to move this country forward in the interest of everyone,” Mr. Hou said.

While the ultimate goal of the Solomon Islands must be to become more self-reliant and less dependent on outside help, the fresh approach of the SIG in wanting to work more closely with its development partners is seen as a welcome initiative.

In terms of what the PM described as socio-economic development for the Solomon Islands, a broad definition, I would hope that the basic needs of the Solomon Islands MOHMS will not go unrecognized because, real socio-economic development first and foremost depends on the health and welfare of all its people.

In separate letters to the local media in Honiara this last few days, I highlighted the current crisis at the Buala and the National Referral Hospitals for hospital beds and the fact that the New Zealand Take My Hands (TMH) Charity Trust had offered the SI MOHM between 50 to 100 hospital beds but NZ$12.500 is needed from the MOHMS before Christmas this year to secure the donation and guarantee the shipment of the beds to Honiara.

I also pointed out that because of the huge shortfall in the SI’s government’s coffers occasioned by revenue losses, complicated all the more by predictions of over-spending in SI government ministries, the chance to acquire the hospital beds is most likely to be lost and see them having to be diverted to other agreement partners linked to TMH, notably Pakistan, Nepal or Fiji.

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For the  record, in the initial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the SI MOHMS/NRH and TMH, the undertaking was for the MOHMS/NRH to pay to TMH NZ$50,000 per annum for TMH to supply up to 10 twenty foot containers of medical equipment and medical supplies for the NRH and Provincial hospitals in the Solomon Islands.

Only the first payment of NZ$25,000 was met and the request for just NZ$12,500 only half of the outstanding agreed sum, is a concession by TMH to try to assist the Solomon Islands acquire the much needed hospital beds.

Against this picture I have painted, it is known that the New Zealand Government has effectively made an 18 percent increase in foreign aid available in the coming year after two consecutive years of under spending in the three year funding cycle implemented by former foreign minister Murray McCully.

New Zealand is highly committed to showing increased leadership in the Pacific and that “leadership’ could, I suggest, be exemplified by helping the New Zealand Charity Trust TMH send the hospital beds to Honiara by utilizing some of its aid budget allocation and perhaps considering ongoing support for TMH in its ongoing charity endeavours throughout the Pacific region, especially given TMH was recently one of the finalists for a New Zealand Business Award of Excellence.

Haere tonu ki te whakaatu i te huarahi, Aotearoa.

 Yours sincerely

 Frank Short

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