CARETAKER Prime Minister Rick Hou has met with the visiting team from the US Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) mid-week, in Honiara.
The MCC team is currently in Honiara to discuss the immediate first steps with the Government to advance the threshold program development with the key coordinating ministries.
Prime Minister Hou when welcoming the visiting delegation, reiterated the Government’s appreciation for the inclusion of Solomon Islands in the MCC Threshold Programme.
He said this is a worthwhile acknowledgment in recognition of Solomon Islands efforts to economic reforms and fighting corruption.
“I believe this is also a successful outcome as a result of the passing of the Anti-corruption Act and the Whistle blowers Act – both of which have commenced,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the Government’s commitment in fighting corruption have been further strengthened with the ongoing work to establish the Anti-Corruption Commission and to strengthen integrity institutions.
Prime Minister Hou also informed the visiting delegation that Solomon Islands have developed several tools in addition to the SDGs that will also assist the process during the diagnostics and analysis phase.
a. The National Development Strategy 2016 – 2035;
b. the Development Finance Assessment Report;
c. the Solomon Islands Integrated Financial Framework ;
d. the Solomon Islands National Infrastructure Investment Programme;
e. the Public Private partnership Policy, and
f. the various sector strategies
MCC’s acting Vice President Policy and Evaluation Tom Kelly in response has congratulated the Prime Minister and his caretaker Government on behalf of the US Secretary of State.
He said this new partnership is in recognition of the country’s progress in the areas of good governance.
“This is a unique bilateral program and Solomon Islands has been specifically selected because of the progress it has made over the past months in good governance,” he said.
Mr Kelly said the focus will be on programs that will drive economic growth through the private sector as well as programs that will enhance good governance in the country.
“We are also prepared to assist Solomon Islands to qualify for a bigger grant and to help Solomon Islands improve on its score card,” he said.
MCC’s Managing Director of Threshold Programs James A. Gerard informed the Prime Minister that they will assemble a team of experts that will be dispatched to Solomon Islands soon to carry out phase one of the program.
He said phase one will include collaborative meetings to dialogue on the country’s constraint analysis.
Mr Gerard also acknowledged the commitment and readiness shown by the Prime Minister in establishing an interim coordination mechanism which the Ministry of Development Planning & Aid Coordination (MDPAC) had been identified to host the focal point for MCC.
He said it is encouraging to note that MDPAC will also be assisted by a coordinating group from three central government ministries namely the Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & External Trade and the Ministry of Finance & Treasury.
The visit by the US delegation followed the announcement made by the Prime Minister in a press conference last week of Solomon Islands selection as a recipient of the US Government’s MCC threshold program.
The meeting on Thursday was also attended by H.E Catherine Ebert Gray, US Ambassador to PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and Keithie Saunders, US Resident Consular Agent, Solomon Islands.
Secretary to Prime Minister Dr Jimmy Rodgers, Secretary to Cabinet James Remobatu, Permanent Secretary to Foreign Affairs Collin Beck, Permanent Secretary to MDPAC Shadrack Fanega, Permanent Secretary to Commerce Riley Mesepitu, Solomon Islands Ambassador to US Robert Sisilo and Press Secretary to Prime Minister Douglas Marau also accompanied the Prime Minister for the meeting.