The New Zealand Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee Delegation currently visiting Honiara has had a fruitful dialogue with Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare MP.
Introducing the delegation, chairperson, Jenny Salesa explained, the visit is to…… “strengthen bilateral relationships, inform the Committee’s current inquiry into fisheries in the Pacific, gain insights into Solomon Islands Covid-19 response and better understand regional strategic issues.”
She said, New Zealand’s development partnership with Solomon Islands is based on an understanding of shared priorities and results that Solomon Islands want to achieve, where New Zealand can most add value.
The courtesy visit specifically cover;
- Bilateral Relation (NZ-SI)
- Development Cooperation (NZ-SI)
- Sectoral Assistance to Solomon Islands
- Reciprocal Visa Waiver Arrangement
- Air Service Agreement (NZ-SI)
- RSE Scheme with NZ
- COVID-19 Assistance
Welcoming the delegation, Prime Minister Sogavare took the time to share the country’s sympathy to New Zealand for the devastating effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.
The government is ready to fully commit and exhaust our bilateral ties and work closely and cooperatively on various national development needs, assured the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Sogavare further informed the New Zealand delegation of the need to have a much deeper dialogue around the bilateral aid programmes, principles for development cooperation, and other relevant development focus areas.
He acknowledged the Government of NZ for the support provided in;
- Development of Bina Harbour Tuna Processing plant project.
- Aviation and provincial airports upgrade.
- Supporting the Solomon Island Inland Revenue Division (SIIRD).
- Funding support and commitment towards MAL national programs and development aspirations.
- Security partnership under the police cooperation program, and for responding to the SIG request during the November 2021 riot in Honiara.Thank the NZ Government for extending the New Zealand Defence Force deployment in Solomon Islands until May 2023.
- COVID-19 assistance provided (Approx. SBD $83.6 million total)
The Prime Minister also request New Zealand Government to reciprocate the visa waiver arrangements Solomon Islands is currently offering New Zealand.
“Since NZ is trying to enhance its Pacific Reset Policy, the reciprocal visa waiver arrangement would be necessary to be included in the policy as this will enhance engagement, partnerships, and collaboration with the pacific.”
He adds, Solomon Islands needs further support towards consolidation of its Labour Mobility policy, Strategies and programs to ensure efficient facilitation and implementation of its LMU programs.