Canberra announces new aid funding to Solomon Islands as it moves to build a stronger Pacific family
AUSTRALIA will provide an estimated AUD$169-Million in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to Solomon Islands in 2022-23, including AUD$103-Million bilaterally, the Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Dr Lachlan Strahan announced, Thursday.
This announcement comes as Canberra pledges to bring new energy and resources to the Pacific, to listen to and work with our Pacific partners, to help build a stronger Pacific family.
Australia’s 2022-23 Budget, delivered on Tuesday 25 October, backs up this pledge with real action.
“We will increase our Official Development Assistance to the Pacific over the next four years, growing our partnerships across infrastructure, climate, health, education, economic partnerships, security, and enhancing our people-to-people connections.
“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Solomon Islands as we navigate the challenges ahead of us, particularly those of climate change and COVID-19 recovery. Australia will provide an estimated AUD$169 million in ODA to Solomon Islands in 2022-23, including AUD$103 million bilaterally,” High Commissioner Strahan said.
“Our bilateral development cooperation with Solomon Islands seeks to respond pragmatically to Solomon Islands’ priorities, including health, education, governance and elections, infrastructure, justice, women’s leadership, and private sector development. Our funding also covers support for the 2023 Pacific Games.
“Currently there are more than 3,700 Solomon Islander workers in Australia under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme. In this Budget, the Australian Government is improving and expanding the PALM scheme, creating greater opportunities for Solomon Islander workers.
“The reforms include the opportunity for an additional 500 Pacific and Timorese workers to obtain aged care qualifications, completing their Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) while participating in the scheme,” the Australian High Commissioner said.
Through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), Australia is supporting work on the Tina River Hydropower Transmission System.
Australia has now doubled the grant funding available to the Pacific under the AIFFP to A$1 billion, combined with AUD$3 billion in loans, forming the now AUD$4-Billion Facility. This strengthens support for quality, climate resilient, transformational infrastructure projects across the Pacific, including here in Solomon Islands.
Recognising nothing is more central to the security and wellbeing of the Pacific than climate change, Australia has established a Pacific Climate Infrastructure Financing Partnership under the AIFFP, increasing our investment in climate-related infrastructure and building resilience.
Strengthening connections between our communities, the Australian Government is also delivering on its commitment to establish a pathway for permanent residency in Australia through the creation of the Pacific Engagement Visa, with up to 3,000 visas to be granted across the Pacific and Timor-Leste each year.
This Budget deepens and broadens Australia’s security partnership with our Pacific family. Australia will provide increased support to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing through the Pacific Maritime Security Programme.
Australia will support customs and border security capability throughout the Pacific and expand training programs for Pacific security forces through the new Australia-Pacific Defence School.
Australia is also supporting a diverse, independent and resilient media sector in the Pacific, with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to share content, support content creation, and provide training to Pacific journalists.
Australia is committed to working with Solomon Islands towards ‘our shared vision for a peaceful, prosperous and resilient Pacific.’
By Deli-Sharon Oso
Solomon Star, Honiara