The World Bank Group (WBG) has assured Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of its commitment to continue its support programme to various national projects in Solomon Islands.
WB Country Representative Anne Tully made the assurance when a team of WBG and Asian Development Bank (ADB) officials paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister Sogavare on Thursday following his recent election to the top political post.
Ms Tully congratulated Hon Sogavare for his election victory and expressed that the WB welcomes directions from the new Solomon Islands Government leadership on how it should execute its programmes in the country.
She said that the WBG aims to add value to government programmes through supporting transformational projects such as the Tina Hydro Project and Rural Development Programme as well as providing independent advice on sectors such as mining and the economy.
WB Solomon Islands Senior Operations Officer Erik Johnson added that the Tina Hydro Project is in its critical stage and a strong political will by the Solomon Islands Government is important to seeing the project off the ground.
Resident Representative of WBG’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Solomon Islands Mr Seva Payevskiy informed the Prime Minister on ongoing projects supported by IFC including transaction advisory support of the Tina Hydro, financial inclusion cooperation with the banks as well as Soltuna expansion project. He told the Prime Minister that the IFC will be looking to support private sector led projects in agriculture and other sustainable development areas.
ADB’s Development Coordinator in Solomon Islands Ms Suliana Tai’atu Ata’ata also congratulated Prime Minister Sogavare for his recent election victory on behalf of ADB. ADB aims to continue its good working relationship with the Sogavare Government. She mentioned that a high level delegation from ADB comprising of the Director General of the Pacific Division, Xianbin Yoa and the Regional Director of the Pacific Liaison Cooperation Office will come to Solomon Islands to meet the Prime Minister and the new government.
She also enlightened the Prime Minister on ADB’s operation in Solomon Islands which is largely in the infrastructure sector plus technical assistance and training.
The key infrastructure projects funded by ADB include the broadband/submarine cable project, domestic maritime shipping project (construction of wharves and subsidised shipping program), transport sector development project, Provincial renewable energy/mini hydropower in Auki and the Transport sector Flood recovery project.
ADB will provide USD$5m budget support to the Government this year. ADB also provides technical assistance to improve the enabling environment for business through its Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI). Recent assistance includes reforms to business registration laws, upgrades to business registries customs and excise law reform and continuing reform of finance-related legislation.
Ms Ata’ata said ADB is in the process of finalising the mini hydro power project in Auki. The landowners have reached agreement with SIEA on land issues and engagement of consultants are being finalised for the design and construction supervision. At the regional level, the ADB Development Coordinator in Solomon Islands said the bank is also funding the establishment of the 4th USP Campus in Solomon Islands.
In response, Prime Minister Sogavare thanked the World Bank Group and ADB team for their congratulatory messages and expressed appreciation for their operational updates.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the significant contributions by WBG and ADB in supporting economic growth and informed them of his Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s plan to stage an economic summit after the 2015 National Budget is passed, to discuss with aid donors and get their views on funding support.
He said the private sector is an important player in economic growth and emphasised the need for Solomon Islands to be clear about the direction it would be taking to achieve economic growth.
“Solomon Islands is a unique country with unique development challenges and it is a challenge to come up with the best development formula to take the country forward.”
Mr Sogavare assured the WBG that the Solomon Islands Government under the leadership of his Democratic Coalition for Change Government will continue to support the Tina Hydro Project along with other outstanding national projects and ensure their completion.
The Prime Minister also assured the WBG and ADB team that the Solomon Islands Government under his leadership will continue to work closely with their respective institutions on monetary and fiscal policies for the betterment of Solomon Islands.
– PM’s press secretariat