Saturday, October 8, 2022
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Airlines adds more seats, extra flight days between Hon & POM late Oct

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More passengers and cargo will flow between Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea later this month with Solomon Airlines adding additional flights between Honiara and Port Moresby in the last week of October.

In addition to Solomon Airlines weekly codeshare flights with Air Niugini which operate every Saturday and Sunday, the airline has added two extra services between Honiara and Port Moresby to cater for demand.

All flights will be operated by Air Niugini Fokker 100 jet, with the increased flight schedule as follows:

Wednesday 26 October – Flight IE712 will depart Port Moresby at 4.00am, arriving Honiara 7.20am Friday

-28 October – Flight IE713 will depart Honiara at 10.10am, arriving Port Moresby 11.30am — Saturday 29 October – Flight IE708 will depart Port Moresby at 09.45am arriving Honiara at 1.05pm

– Sunday 30 October – Flight IE709 11:30 will depart Honiara at 11.30am arriving Port Moresby at 12:50pm Bookings using credit card for payment can be made online at www.flysolomons.com or other methods are available through Solomon Airlines’ Honiara Sales Office on (+677) 20152 or a preferred local travel agent.

All Solomon Airlines flights comply fully with the COVID-19 regulations of the relevant countries.

 

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Teachers’ assured of improved working conditions

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Teachers parade during the World Teachers Day celebration

The Government through the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development assured teachers of its commitment to improve the working conditions and teachers’ salaries.

This was highlighted by the Minister of Education Hon. Lanelle Tanagada at this year’s World Teachers Day celebration today.

Hon. Tanagada said regardless of the many challenges faced by past and present governments, striving to improve the needs of teachers’ remains a priority.

“Consecutive governments including the current Government continues to take our teachers’ welfare and development seriously despite the many challenges faced and to improve the working conditions and pay of teachers,” Hon. Tanagada said.

She believed that improved working conditions including better pay is the key to attracting younger, dedicated and enthusiastic educators that are capable of transforming our education system. It is with this in mind that I wish to extend my Ministry’s greetings to all teachers and thank them for their service,” Hon. Tanagada said.

The Theme for this year’s celebration is “The transformation of education begins with teachers”, which, not only recognized the role of teachers in transforming education, but also highlights and celebrates the tireless efforts of teachers even during the difficult period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Despite all the challenges and changes these past events have brought, teachers continue to work hard in various capacities to help young children grow and learn, and shape the future of generations throughout the world,” Hon. Tanagada said.

Teachers serving under the Honiara and Guadalcanal Education Authorities gathered together in Honiara today to celebrate World Teachers Day in Honiara joined by final year students of the SINU Faculty of Education and Humanities as well as new teachers who started their journey in the teaching profession.

In commemorating this year’s World Teachers Day, the UNESCO, a United Nations body looking after education emphasizes the bold action which is needed to support teachers everywhere and to recognise their critical role in shaping the future of education.

ENDS///

 

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Tanagada outlines priority programs to improve teaching as number hits 11,000

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Some of the teachers during today's parade in Honiara

The Minister of Education and Human Resources Development, Hon. Lanelle Tanagada has outlined progresses towards improving the national teaching service during celebrations marking World Teachers Day in Honiara today.

According to Hon. Tanagada, the Government’s priority programmes include the Education Bill 2022, the Curriculum Development project, Senior Secondary Education Improvement project, Professional Teacher Development project, and the Classroom Assessment Framework and Guideline that aims to improve teachers’ ability to assess students learning.

“My ministry through teachers do play a significant role in ensuring the implementation of these activities, projects and engagements so that its impact is evident in every day teaching and learning,” Hon Tanagada said.

The Education Minister said the Government’s intention and priority is to see a new teachers’ scheme of service implemented along with the new Education Bill once it is passed by Parliament.

The current draft will see a new teachers and leaders’ administrative instruction replacing the current Teaching Services Handbook. Once endorsed it is anticipated that the teacher’s scheme is fair, implementable and promotes career progression for teachers.

Hon. Tanagada also highlighted that the number of teachers and schools in the country has significantly increased to 11,000 plus teachers and 30 different Education Authorities over the years, which, brings additional challenges to teacher management for the Ministry of Education.

One of the most recent improvements to addressing teacher management issues was the introduction of a new Education Management Information System known as OpenEMIS.

The system better supports Education Authorities to manage teacher employment issues at the Education Authority and school levels. Education Authorities are expected to start using the system early next year.

In addition, another step towards teacher improvement is the “Best Teacher of the Year Award”, which will be awarded every five years during World Teachers Day event.

Details of the criteria in which teachers wishing to be considered for the award will be developed and introduced to the Best Teacher of Solomon Islands award starting in 2024.

ENDS///

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Sogavare meets Albanese

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Sogavare and Albanese today

 Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare today met his Australian Counterpart, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Australian National Parliament in Canberra, their first meeting on Australian soil since the latter’s successful election victory as Prime Minister of Australia in May this year.

Thanking Prime Minister Albanese for the warm invitation, Prime Minister Sogavare re-iterated Solomon Islands enduring relationship is underpinned by strong people-to-people links, shared democratic values, and proud members of the Pacific Family.

“Australia is currently Solomon Islands largest bilateral partner with an investment of almost 1 billion Solomon dollars annually and Australia is Solomon Islands’ partner of choice in its development journey. Solomon Islands values the immense contribution by Australia to the development of Solomon Islands,” reiterated Prime Minister Sogavare.

He also thank the Government and people of Australia for the substantial support to towards the 2023 Pacific Games hosting and kind offer to help finance the national general elections which will help my government implement (i) the pre-requisite preparatory electoral reforms for the national general elections in 2023, and (ii) the conduct of the national general elections in early 2024.

He committed support to work with the Pacific family of Forum nations national ‘vision of development underpinned by Solomon Islands Foreign policy of ‘Friends to All and Enemies to None.’

“Solomon Islands WILL NOT DO ANYTHING that will undermine its own national security and jeopardise the security of any or all Forum countries. Solomon Islands will never be used for foreign military installations or institutions of foreign countries. It is my government’s legacy to safeguard the future of Solomon Islands and its people, not to endanger the country and its citizens or the security of any Forum country, PM Sogavare highlighted.

He however highlighted the need for Honiara and Canberra to review and update the existing 1994 Partnership Agreement between the two countries to ensure it appropriately captures current and new areas of cooperation, including the 2012 Subsidiary Agreement on APTC, and the 2017 security Agreement, a draft of which was submitted to Australia in June 2022 for consideration and further joint consultation.

He further confirms, a Memorandum of Understanding Between Solomon Islands Government and the Government of Australia relating to land exchange for the new Australian Government Chancery in Solomon Islands has been vetted by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and is now with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.

The key to long-term peace and security in Solomon Islands rests with our ability to address the priorities of all provinces articulated in the Townsville Peace Agreement which basically called for infrastructure development in all provinces – roads, bridges, wharves, airstrips, market outlets for products, schools, clinics, and hospitals. If Solomon Islands government with the help of development partners was able to address these priorities for all provinces, long-term peace and security and economic development will look after itself.

The bilateral engagement covered broad areas such as Economic Cooperation, Labour Mobility, Pacific Engagement Visa, Climate Change, Infrastructure, Security Cooperation, Human Resource Development, Human Development, Media, Pacific Games, National General elections among others.

Prime Minister Albanese is being assured of Prime Minister Sogavare’s commitment to work closely with him as a member of the Pacific family and a close neighbour based on trust and mutual respect.

The Australian PM is thankful and values PM Sogavare’s assurance that Australia is Solomon Islands Partner of Choice.

“Like families we won’t always agree on every single item, but what we will agree on is pursuing common interests wherever we can. Australia regards ourselves as very much wanting to be partners of choice for Solomon Islands,” expressed PM Albanese.

Prime Minister Sogavare also invited Prime Minister Albanese for a state visit to Solomon Islands and called for the resumption of high-level consultations between Honiara and Canberra on a more regular basis.

Prime Minister Sogavare also met with Hon. Richard Marles MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence late afternoon.

PM Sogavare retired from the day’s engagement at around 10pm.

ISSUED BY PM’S PRESS TEAM IN CANBERRA TONIGHT

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Australian High Commissioner visits Yandina, Russell Islands

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Australian High Commissioner dancing with the Yandina Parish Mothers Union Group.

Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan visited Yandina in the Russell Islands on 29 September to hand over an Australian-funded solar panel system at Yandina Community High School to supply power to desktop computers for students and teachers, boosting education outcomes and providing clear power.

nurses at yandina
Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan and Second Secretary Laura Wilson visited the Yandina Area Health Centre Clinic and met with Head Nurse Agnes Sade.

The solar power system was funded by a SBD100,000 grant under Australia’s Direct Aid Program.

Dr Strahan congratulated Project Coordinator Brian Vaka, Principal of Yandina Community High School on the project’s success. Dr Strahan said, “this project will improve the High School’s access to ICT facilities and enable students to conduct research. It will also enhance the quality of teaching by making it easier for teachers to prepare work plans.”

Dr Strahan reflected on the importance of these community projects in addressing shared challenges, and acknowledged the vital role played by community leaders like Principal Vaka in coordinating and driving these projects.

The Direct Aid Program has been in place for over two decades. In the past three years, DAP has supported 35 projects across all nine provinces. It is a small, flexible grants scheme, which the Australian High Commission administers directly. The Program funds community-led projects to help improve community standards of living.

opening yahndina
Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan, Member of Provincial Assembly for Mbanika Ward (Centre) and School Chair (Left) cut the ribbon of the solar powered facilities at Yandina Community High School.

While in Yandina, Dr Strahan visited Yandina Police Station and spoke to Officer in Charge Inspector Brian Kanai about the difficulties of operating in the provinces, and the importance of community policing.

Dr Strahan also toured the Yandina Area Health Centre Clinic with Head Nurse Agnes Sade, discussing the issues faced by the health sector in the provinces. Australia supports health service delivery in the provinces through the Health Sector Support Program Phase 3. In 2022, Australia provided SBD1.8 million in support to Central Province, including for the Yandina Area Health Centre, Rural Health Centres and Nurse Aid Posts.

Dr Strahan met with church and women leaders from Yandina and joined with members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia’s Mother’s Union in a dance, even though he didn’t know the steps!

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Acting PM Maelanga acknowledges Tina Hydro Ltd visit

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Tina Hydro Limited Delegation with Acting PM Manasseh Maelanga and Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister Tony Kabasi.

 

Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Maelanga has commended the Chief Executive Officer of Tina Hydro Limited (THL), Mr. Younghoon Chang and his two-man delegation for a brief courtesy visit on him at the Prime Minister’s Office today.

Maelanga told the visiting delegation he was pleased to be informed of the progresses made so far in implementing the project regardless of the negative impacts of covid-19 that slowed the projects in the past two years.

He said the Tina Hydro project is a Government national flagship project, which, is important for the reduction of the cost of electricity in Honiara by reducing reliance on diesel fuel to generate electricity.

“We are looking forward for the successful implementation of the Tina Hydro project to help us reduce the high cost of electricity to our people,” Maelanga said.

Mr. Chang, said covid-19 and few other issues has affected progress but he is happy that implementation began to pick up recently with a ground breaking ceremony planned for November.

Tina Hydro Limited (THL) is the entity to implement the Hydropower Facility and Access Road of the Tina River Hydro Development Project.

Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water) is the selected private sponsor (in consortium with Hyundai Engineering Company of Components 1 and 2. As the main project sponsor, and shareholder in the PC with management control, K-water will lead the PC and ensure that it is managed effectively and all of its contractual obligations are fully met.

K-water will, therefore, be responsible for building and operating the HPF, and ensuring that the EPC contractor effectively executes its contract. K-water is the preferred O&M contractor.

Hyundai Engineering Company is the selected private sponsor (in consortium with K-water) of Components 1 and 2.

ENDS///

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Honiara Beautification Sub-Committee begins discussions leading to PG2023

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Members of the Beautification Committee

The Honiara Beautification stakeholders have set up a Sub Committee Working Group under the Safe and Green Games, to oversee the implementation of the beautification of Honiara City as part of the ongoing preparations leading up to the Pacific Games 2023.

The working sub-committee was formed during a meeting organized by Government Services Integrated Committee (GSIC) with the Honiara Beautification stakeholders at the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, OPMC, on Thursday 6th October 2022.

The meeting agreed to set up the Sub Committee working Group under GSIC and Chaired by HCC and supported by Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management, MECDM, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Forestry, MoFR, and other key stakeholders.

The Committee plans to organize and drive all Key Stakeholders for the greening and beautification of Honiara City and surroundings in preparation towards the Pacific Games 2023.

Chair and Coordinator of Government Services Integration Committee (GSIC) overseeing Governments preparations towards the Pacific Games 2023, in OPMC, Bernard Bataánisia, welcomed the formation of the Sub Committee, and stated the Committee has an important role in rallying and coordination with all Stakeholders and City Residence in preparations for the Games.

“The Safe and Green Games is the Strategy Action Plan, the Government have in place to successfully host the PG 2023.

“It calls upon all stakeholders to work together and support one another to support the Games.

“The success of the plan depends on all Honiara residents, and stakeholders to work together with the Government to successfully host the Games,” Bata’anisia said.

The Honiara Beautification stakeholders comprised Key Government Ministries, Games Organizing Committee, GOC, Honiara City Council, HCC, National Hosting Authority, NHA, CAUSE Project, Solo Enviro Beautification, SEB, Tourism Solomon Islands, and key stakeholders involved in beautification and cleaning of the City.

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Cabinet removes 72 hours PCR test requirement for incoming passengers

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PMO...gov't removes 72 hours requirement

Cabinet today (6 October) has approved further easing of restrictions to enter Solomon Islands on incoming travelers, especially, the removal of the 72 hours PCR test prior to entering the country.

Since the re-opening of borders on July 1 and the subsequent expiry of the State of Public Emergency (SOPE) on July 24, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services stepped up its surveillance and database, which, indicated isolated cases of covid-19.

Cabinet has considered that the trend towards evidence-based approaches to restrictions reflects the evolving nature of the pandemic also help restore confidence in travel while help keeping both visitors and tourism workers safe.

Current evidence shows that current travel restrictions are primarily effective at the early stage of the pandemic and may help to delay a pandemic, however, the effect of travel restrictions decline over time as cases are inevitably imported.

Cabinet also noted that most countries around the world have either lifted or have partial requirements for entry without and have adopted different models of approach such as easing of burden on health facilities.

Cabinet further noted that, in terms of the likelihood of importation of new variants and starting a new wave of outbreak in Solomon Islands is low while vaccination coverage of atleast one dose for those 18 years and above currently stands at 70 percent while for double doses at 53 percent.

In its conclusion, Cabinet maintained that only travelers who are not citizens of Solomon Islands must be fully vaccinated with proof of complete vaccination against covid-19 requirements are permitted to enter the country while Solomon Islands Nationals who are unvaccinated can enter the country subject to proof of negative PCR test 72 hours prior to entering the country.

Meanwhile, Cabinet has directed the Attorney General’s Chambers to work with the Immigration Division to amend the Immigration Regulation in order to accommodate the changes to the pre-arrival requirements, particularly, the removal of the 72 hours PCR test prior to entering the country requirement for travelers.

Government will soon announce when this exercise will come into effect as soon as the regulation covering this requirement is amended.

It further directed the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to step up on its surveillance capacity and capabilities and as appropriate expand and increase its surveillance sites in the Provinces from 13 to 20 and to continue delivering and administering its covid vaccination rollout programme and ensure to increase coverage to 80 percent with atleast one dose.

ENDS///

 

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Wale calls on gov’t to publish KPMG report on Huawei 161 towers project

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Wale

OPPOSITION Leader Hon Matthew Wale has called on the government to publish the independent report by KPMG NZ on the 161 Huawei towers project.

Hon Wale raised the concern following revelations that KPMG’s New Zealand branch was contracted to independently review a controversial telco overhaul, through which Beijing will loan around US$66 million (SBD $544.3 million) to the Solomon Islands for Huawei mobile towers.

The proposal also suggests a revenue-sharing model, with Huawei set to take home 50 per cent for the first 10 years of operation.

Opposition Leader Hon Wale has raised the alarm describing it as nonsense calling on the government to explain how this is expected to bring in revenue to the country.

“The government needs to publish the independent report by the KPMG NZ as it is in the best interest of the people of this country as it also raises serious questions about the project’s viability,” he said.

Hon Wale said if KPMG has casted doubt on the viability of the project then the government must also explain what has changed to make it viable.

“Additionally, 50% revenue to Huawei over 10 years for what? They’re being paid from loan proceeds. And in the next 10 years the towers will become an obsolete technology. But Solomon Islands will still be paying off the loan. This makes no commercial sense. Furthermore, towers for 3G & 4G are already out of date by 10 years since the rest of the world are now moving into 5G,” he said.

The Opposition Leader said this loan will burden Solomon Islands for 20 years with a technology that will be 30 years out dated by the time the loan is paid off.

“Government must scrap this loan deal because it makes no sense and smells fishy,” he said.

Hon Wale said his office is also informed that as part of the deal, the maintenance of the towers would be done by Solomon Telekom.

“This is ridiculous. Telekom is even struggling to maintain its existing towers and an additional 161 more towers is impractical,” he said.

Hon Wale also raised concerns over the lack of a thorough feasibility study to determine the location of the towers and whether or not it would make financial returns as the government is misleading people to believe.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader said the government also needs to be consistent with the number of towers to be built around the country.

“First it was announced that it was 200, then later announced as 161 and then the Prime Minister’s speech during the recent UNGA announced that it was 170. So which is the factual number?” he questioned.

ENDS//

Opposition Press

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Vaisekavea sworn-in as new PS of Agriculture and Livestock

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New PS Lottie Vaisekavea

A new Permanent Secretary was sworn-in by the Governor General Sir David Vunagi at Government House today.

He is Mr. Lottie Vaisekavea from Nukukaisi village, Central Makira, Makira Ulawa Province.

Prior to taking up his new post, Vaisekavea was the Program Manager of the Rural Development Program (RDP) for the past 14 years.

Vaisekavea holds a Masters’ Degree in Agriculture Science, specializing in Agronomy and Extension from the University of Reading, England. He also has a diploma in Agriculture from the University of the South Pacific.

He replaces former Permanent Secretary Ms Ethel Francis whose contract lapsed recently.

The swearing-in ceremony was witnessed senior government officials and family members.

ENDS///

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