SOLOMON Airlines and Solomon Water are the beneficiaries of Australia’s latest funding support totalling $37 million, it was announced Thursday.
Australia’s High Commissioner, Lachlan Strahan and the Minister of Finance and Treasury, Harry Kuma signed the funding agreement on Tuesday 4th May, a statement issued by the Australian High Commission in Honiara, said.
The funding is to assist the two Solomon Islands enterprises to continue vital operations and to stimulate economic activity, the statement said.
“As we all continue to respond to the many disruptions caused by COVID-19, Australia has provided an additional AUD6 million (SBD 37 Million) to keep Solomon Airlines in the air and to help Solomon Water deliver water to vulnerable communities,” it said.
Dr Strahan said that Australia was working in line with the Solomon Islands Government’s priorities.
“Australia and Solomon Islands are strong security, development and economic partners. We share similar COVID-19 response goals – to save lives and livelihoods and emerge stronger post-pandemic. Solomon Airlines provides the country’s all important domestic network and its international air bridge,” he said.
In response, Minister Kuma said, “This is timely support that will boost the two state-owned enterprises’ efforts to deliver and maintain efficient services to the people of this country. Australia is such a true and loyal friend through thick and thin, even though you are also affected by the global pandemic.”
Under the arrangement, Solomon Water will receive the lion share of the funding – some AUD5 million (SBD 31 million) to improve water supply, water quality, and to provide basic facilities for vulnerable communities in Honiara and some provincial towns.
It is estimated that approximately 28,000 people are expected to benefit from improved water supply and sanitation facilities in Honiara, Auki, Tulagi, Noro, and Gizo. Clean and safe water is vital to meeting the basic daily needs of the population, the statement from the Australian High Commission, said.
Last Friday Dr Strahan and the CEO of Solomon Water, Ian Gooden, visited some of the communities around Honiara where Australia’s funding will improve water supply. This included a community where new pipes will deliver fresh water directly to households, and a dam that will be rehabilitated to improve water quality and a fence erected to protect the water source.
The statement said that the balance of the funding – AUD1 million (SBD 6 million) – will be delivered to Solomon Airlines to enable the airline to meet essential training requirements for engineers and crew, purchase aircraft maintenance equipment, and undergo a remote International Air Transport Association [IATA] Operational Safety Audit.
Solomon Airlines and Solomon Water were among State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) which received substantial funding from the Government’s Economic Stimulus Package [ESP] last year.