Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was briefed on the United States (US) initiatives to upgrade the US’s development programs in the country.
The US Deputy Chief of Mission based at the Port Moresby Embassy, in Papua New Guinea (PNG) Bernard Link led the team during the courtesy call, a statement issued by the Prime Minister Press Secretariat said.
Updating PM Sogavare on the US’s development projects in the country, the US Deputy Chief of Mission outlined a number of development project initiatives for the Solomon Islands.
These included :
- USAID’s $25 million (SBD$200m) Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, Livelihoods and Environment (SCALE) Program, which will be the USG’s largest investment in the Solomon Islands. This is a national Project that will benefit Malaita and other provinces. The primary objective of SCALE is to advance the Solomon Islands’ economic competitiveness and inclusiveness with specific emphasis on the development of the agribusiness sector and improved management of the forestry sector. It will seek to improve the enabling environment for increased trade and investment; promote the expansion and further development of the agribusiness sector; and improve governance. By advancing regulatory reform and improving the performance of the agriculture and forestry sectors, more employment will be generated, incomes are expected to rise and the quality of life of the citizens of Solomon Islands will improve. An agreement is under development.
- The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) threshold program. This seeks to assist the Solomon Islands Government in addressing two major constraints to economic growth through the Accessing Land for Tourism Investment Facilitation (ALTIF) Project and the Forest Value Enhancement Project (FoVEP). The MCC threshold program is approximately USD 23 million. An agreement on this is under negotiation.
- The US Government is also negotiating the framework that would authorize Peace Corps’ return to Solomon Islands. At present, Peace Corps has no volunteers posted overseas due to COVID.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sogavare in response expressed gratitude to the US Government for its development initiatives targeting the country.
The PM welcomes the US projects and hopes they contribute meaningfully and inclusively to national development.
He emphasised, Solomon Islands must address its development issues. They are important to sustain the local economy.
“On the US25 million aid as with other deeds between Washington and Honiara, a formal Third Party Note from the US Government to the Solomon Islands Government is important.
“A formal agreement between US and Solomon Islands is critical,” he said.
Prime Minister Sogavare further underlined any development in the country must ensure Solomon Islands progress as a united country not focusing only on one particular interest.
“The nation is still struggling to address issues and bitter memories of the past ethnic tension.
“We want to keep our corner of the world peaceful,” he stressed.
On MCC, he added, “My Government is receptive on Millennium Challenge Corporation program negotiations.”
The announcement to re-establish Peace Corps in Solomon Islands 20 years after departing the country is also commended.
Peace Corps’ efforts in the Solomon Islands will initially focus on education and will recruit short-term volunteers with experience in Peace Corps’ education sector to help re-establish the program.
This first group of volunteers is scheduled to arrive in mid-2021.
Mr. Link over the past week has visited Malaita as part of his visit to the country.