The Minister of Rural Development (MRD) Honorable Duddley Kopu made a courtesy visit to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Embassy in Honiara today (Wednesday 10th August 2022) to thank and acknowledge PRC’s continuous support to the Solomon Islands Government since both countries formalized diplomatic relations on 20th September 2019.
MRD’s Permanent Secretary Dr. Samson Viulu and Deputy Secretary Technical Hugo Hebala accompanied the Minister.
Their brief meeting began with an exchange of gifts from both Honorable Kopu on behalf of the Ministry and His Excellency (H.E) Li Ming.
Minister Kopu thanked H.E Ming for accepting his Ministry’s invitation to meet him and his esteemed officials.
“I would like to register our sincere gratitude and thank you to you and your hardworking staff.
“I also like to acknowledge PRC support towards Constituency Development Fund (CDF) programme since 2019 after we entered into the new diplomatic relationship. Your support has been greatly appreciated by our 50 constituencies,” Honorable Kopu said.
“The 50 constituencies have benefited a lot from PRC CDF support since 2019, particularly in the area of small-scale infrastructures, income generating activities, and water and sanitation.
He further told H.E Ming that the support demonstrated true friendship care and concern for the livelihood of our rural people.
“On behalf of the Government through my Ministry, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the Peoples Republic of China through your Embassy office for this great support,” Honorable Kopu expressed.
Honorable Minister Kopu also took the opportunity to brief H.E Ambassador Ming on his ministry’s key reforms.
On Constituency Development Policy the Minister told H.E Ming that a task force has been established to provide oversight and design and development of this new policy.
“Already concept notes and consultation timetable has been developed including MRD selected staff to travel to selected provinces have been identified.
“This policy will help inform the review of the CDF Act 2013 and the development of the CDF regulation,” he added.
In terms of 2021 PRC Acquittals, Honorable Kopu told H.E Ming that a Caucus paper was prepared and already sent to the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) to validate the 2021 water and sanitation projects.
Other key reforms discussed are;
- Restructuring and Functional Review
- Constituency Strengthening Planning Projects
- MRD Management Information System
- Monitoring and Evaluation Standards
With the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), Honorable Kopu told H.E Ming that MRD is now working on establishing standards for effective M&E of the CDF and possible donor-funded projects.
“My Ministry has reached out to UNDP for technical assistance and they have agreed to provide assistance.
“MRD is of the view that a stronger M&E will hopefully attract additional assistance from willing friends to further develop our rural areas,” Honorable Kopu said.
On that same note Minister Kopu further discussed some possible areas MRD needs support from PRC from next year and beyond.
He told H.E Ming that specific training in rural development, research, monitoring and evaluation, entrepreneurship, and small-scale value-added training (agriculture, fisheries, forestry) is a need for MRD.
He also added that MRD is planning a study tour on selected Asian countries as part of its initiative to develop the Constituency Development Policy.
“This study tour aimed to learn from the PRC rural development model, its history, critical success factors, experiences, and the model itself,” Honorable Kopu added.
In the Project Management Unit (PMU), the Minister said that MRD is currently tasking a team to design this PMU specifically to look at its mandate, scoop, functions, governance arrangements, staffing, and key tools to support this proposed establishment.
“This is in anticipation of your government rendering assistance under the Rural Sustainable Development Program (RSDP). We hope Beijing will grant approval for funding of the RSDP,” Honorable Kopu said.
In response to the Minister, H.E Ming thanked Honorable Kopu, Permanent Secretary, and Deputy Secretary Technical for the courtesy visit and MRD’s continuous support.
“The Chinese Embassy has been receiving a lot of support from your Government through various Ministries and also I would like to thank you very much for this invaluable gift (Nguzu, Nguzu) which symbolizes the pride of Solomon Islands,” he added.
He said such a gift represents your long standing culture and tradition similar to the Chinese people whose cultural heritage is the paramount part of their lives.
H.E Ming further reiterated that in the past 3 years Solomon Islands and PRC have worked together and achieved tangible results.
He mentioned the PG2023 stadium infrastructures, SINU dormitory, and the Comprehensive Medical Centre, a big compliment to the current National Referral Hospital.
With regards to Rural Development H.E Ming said PRC will continue to support implementation programs under MRD.
“When we address our peoples’ needs in our rural places, we also help to eradicate poverty,” he added.
H.E Ming further admitted that for 3 years Chinese Embassy has supported MRD and they will continue to show that same support and cooperation now and into the future for the benefit of the Solomon Islands.
“I am very happy that this cooperation has benefited our rural people. For example, I have just witnessed the handover of various projects in the Marovo constituency and I was deeply impressed,” he expressed.
H.E Ming told the Minister that PRC respects fully the sovereignty and internal decisions of the Solomon Islands Government.
“We will continue to honor our commitment to support MRD and continue to work together to achieve the Ministry mandates and also for our future cooperation,” he added.
H.E Ming also told the Minister that he understands the proposal from MRD focuses on two areas, namely economic and social infrastructure and income-generating projects.
“I see a very clear and standard proposal and I can confirm we will work hard together to make sure our cooperation in rural development will benefit all 50 constituencies.”
H.E Ming also supported the Minister in the area of specific training as one of the important areas that need to be addressed.
He further expressed that this specific training idea is a good one and his office will work on that along with the MRD study tour for its Constituency Development Policy.
H.E Ming confirmed that these are important issues and he believes there is a bright prospect that can be achievable.
Minister Kopu again thanked H.E Ming and his staff for accepting the visit and acknowledged their support through the CDF programme.
Honorable Kopu said MRD will continue to work together with the PRC support program to achieve the MRD’s development program in the 50 constituencies.
H.E Ming also took Minister Kopu and his officials for a brief tour in the PRC Embassy office.