NO formal agreement between the United States (SU) and the Solomon Islands Governments is required for the SCALE program to move forward, the United States Embassy in Port Moresby said on Thursday.
“As I mentioned yesterday (on Wednesday), because SCALE is managed by a USAID implementing partner – and not the SIG, a formal partnership agreement with the government is not required,” the US Embassy’s Public Affairs and Economic Officer, Chad Morris said.
“As I understand it, the agreement under negotiation has little or no impact on the program moving forward, but is purely administrative in nature and relates more to the implementing partner than the project itself.
“USAID is currently developing its work plan for the project and has done so in close consultation with the SIG,” he said.
Mr. Morris was responding to questions following a tip off that until the two governments – the US and Solomon Islands – have signed a partnership agreement, funding under the SCALE program would not be released.
But Mr. Morris said as he understood it, that was not the case.
Malaita Province is the designated beneficiary of the $204 million program over five years.
SCALE, an acronym for Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, Livelihoods and Environment, was announced by the United States Government last October.
“USAID is beginning a USD$25 million (SBD$204M) Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, Livelihoods and Environment (SCALE) Program focusing on Malaita Province in Solomon Islands,” the US Government said in a statement at the time.
“The SCALE Program will focus on the following.
• Strengthen the enabling environment to unlock economic opportunity and increase trade.
• Improve natural resource management, including forest governance; promote agribusiness and small enterprise development.
• Expand critical small-scale infrastructure and essential services.
“The United States has and will continue to partner with the Pacific Islands to tackle global and regional challenges, including promoting regional security and stability, advancing sustainable growth, addressing environmental challenges, responding to natural disasters, and strengthening our people-to-people ties,” the statement said.
In an earlier email, Mr. Morris said:
“USAID and the Solomon Islands government continue to discuss the agreement. Unfortunately, I do not have a timeline on when the agreement will be done though all sides are committed to finalizing it as soon as possible,” he said.
By Alfred Sasako