By Deli Oso
Honiara and Canberra have commenced dialogue on the design of a new development assistance programme to succeed Australia’s development assistance programme to Solomon Islands through the Regional Assistance Mission in the post-RAMSI era.
Australian development assistance programme through RAMSI focusses on the strengthening of the police and correctional services, judicial system and governance machinery.
An Australian team engaged by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to design the new development assistance programme arrived in Honiara yesterday and immediately commenced its first meeting of a series of dialogues with the Solomon Islands Government with senior officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr Joseph Waleanisia said, “Discussions during yesterday’s meeting focussed on the governance component of the Australian development assistance programme through RAMSI with the view of addressing areas still perceived to have weak governance relating to workforce capacity to absorb new roles, standards and performance accountabilities.
“The discussions also touched on the need to refocus the Public Service so as to target economic growth in the rural areas, adding that this will be an important measure to ensure government machinery attention to the rural areas is enhanced.
‘The idea of refocusing the Public service falls in line with the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s Policy for the creation of special economic zones throughout the country, provision of investment incentives and business profitability safeguards.”
The Secretary to the Prime Minister said the Australian development programme design team will also meet with officials from the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services and Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.
RAMSI is set to withdraw from Solomon Islands in 2017 after a 14-year engagement through which the other Pacific Islands Forum Member States led by Australia helped restore law and order and key government institutions following the ethnic tension.