The Australian Government has boosted the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) preparation to fight COVID-19 with a SBD$71 million budget support.
Signing of the funding agreement was held at the Cabinet Conference Room, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) today as witnessed by His Excellency, Dr Lachlan Strahan, the Australian High Commission to Solomon Islands and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Hon. Jeremiah Manele MP.
Speaking at the ceremony this morning, Minister Manele thanked the government and good people of Australia for the AUD$13 million or SBD $71 million budget support towards our fight against COVID-19.
“…On behalf of the government and the people of Solomon Islands, I am deeply honoured to acknowledge and thank your government and good people of Australia for the AUD 13 million or SBD $71 million budget support towards our fight against COVID-19.
“Solomon Islands remain one of the few countries in the world and in the Pacific with no confirm case of COVID-19 and as such, the government wants to ensure we remain COVID-19 free. For this, I would like to thank all our development partners and friends for the positive response for supporting our COVID-19 response plan. Though, they too face the huge task in dealing with COVID-19 in their own countries but they have responded to our request for help.
“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,” Hon. Manele says.
The budget support provided by the Australia will specifically assist the government in two areas;
- Health sector COVID-19 response
- The Government’s Economic Stimulus COVID-19 Response Plan
“I am pleased to inform that for 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.
“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 SINU 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.
“Excellency, thank you so much for the generosity of the Australian government for the support rendered towards the Solomon Islands government’s COVID-19 response and preparedness plan. The Government will be SBD44 million better off to prepare and respond on the health front. In addition, the additional SBD27 million will support businesses under the Economic Stimulus Package recently launched by the government this week.
“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.
“Excellency, rest assured, your government’s budget support towards our COVID-19 response will towards the two areas mentioned 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 adds.