PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare and his Deputy John Maneniaru met with a high level team from the world’s premier international development agency – USAID led by the Manila-based Regional Director Mr. Sean Callahan.
USAID and other major US based Organisations and Agencies including the Millennium Challenge Corporation – MCC, the Peace Corps, and the United States Department of Defence have been visiting the country.
USAID is in the country for a scoping exercise similar to the other US organisations. The Meeting is part of the United States (US) commitment to step up its engagements with the Solomon Islands and to reaffirm the US’ commitment to support the country in its development aspirations.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Sogavare welcomed the US commitment to increase engagements with the Solomon Islands.
He further stated that the country has learned so much since it collapsed in the year 2000 and the support from its development partners to address the needs of the country afterwards is very appreciative.
Prime Minister Sogavare also stressed the need for the country to fully utilise the 85% of the population to actively participate in the economic development of the Solomon Islands.
According to Mr. Callagan, the visit to the prime minister was to show the bigger picture on how the US is working across various sectors to assist the Solomon Islands.
In response to an exchange of letters between Prime Minister Sogavare and US Vice President Mike Pence, a scoping mechanism is in place to look at ways to support investments opportunities along the National Transport Core Project that will be implemented with the support of USA and other donor partners.
He stated that as part of the scoping mechanism, USAID has an engineer, an environmental officer to look at the environmental impacts.
Also, a governance official who will be working on governance issues in assessing ways to assist the people to receive the services for their benefit and to assist the government to ensure the people are benefited from such services.
Further, a representative from the US Trade and Development Agency is also engaged as part of the scoping mechanism to see how they can assist in the areas of tourism, aviation and Information and Communications Technology.
“We are looking at it across the spectrum of development, we want to show that the US is not here just to build dead end roads, but to provide wide ranging investment opportunities to the people and the government of Solomon Islands. These investment opportunities will ensure the roads are not build for nothing.
It is worthy to note that President John. F. Kennedy created the United States Agency for International Development USAID by executive order in 1961. As we know John F. Kennedy has strong historical linkages to Solomon Islands during WWII. Now what this great US President created is here to help Solomon Islands with its development aspirations.
The meeting was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister John Maneniaru and USAID’s desk officer from Washington, Michael Glees.