5 May 2016
From the High Commissioner's Desk: Working in Partnership for Development
Last Friday I was delighted to attend the launch of the National Development Strategy (NDS) by Prime Minister Sogavare and Minister for Development Planning and Aid Coordination, the Hon Danny Philip.
I would like to congratulate the government on the release of this landmark document that sets the strategic direction for the development of Solomon Islands over the next twenty years. The NDS maps out a strategy for improving social and economic livelihoods for all Solomon Islanders. It recognises that the key to progress and prosperity for Solomon Islands is promoting sustainable economic growth and improved service delivery.
As Solomon Islands’ largest development partner, Australia looks forward to working with the government to implement the NDS. Indeed as I read through the NDS, I noted that we’re already providing substantial support towards all five of its objectives.
For example, we’re in the process of establishing a new A$50 million program to help stimulate economic growth. We’re supporting opportunities and infrastructure for people in rural areas. Our support to the education and health systems – including direct budget support – is helping to deliver better education and health outcomes year after year.
We’re making a major contribution to disaster-resistant infrastructure through the National Transport Fund (to which we’re committing another A$33 million over the next five years). And we’re contributing to stability and effective governance through our support to RAMSI, the legal system and key government ministries.
So I’m happy to report that Australia’s aid program is already well-aligned with the NDS; but of course, we’ll work with the government to see whether we can align it even more closely.
One thing we won’t be changing, however, is the scale of our commitment to Solomon Islands. This week’s Budget in Canberra confirmed that Australia’s bilateral aid program will remain at A$92 million and our overall aid spending on Solomon Islands (including the costs of RAMSI) will be A$162 million.
So Solomon Islands will remain the third-largest recipient of Australian aid, behind only PNG and Indonesia. That’s quite remarkable when one considers that Solomon Islands has a relatively small population.
But our budget commitment to Solomon Islands is more than just an allocation of funds. It’s also a statement of intent. It says that stability, growth and human development in Solomon Islands is a very high priority for the Australian Government. It says that our commitment to Solomon Islands is undiminished. And it says that we will work alongside Solomon Islanders, for as long as it takes and as much as it costs, to bring prosperity and development to this country.