Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare received a courtesy call from the Secretary of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ms Frances Adamson, in Honiara today.
In their meeting, the Prime Minister acknowledged the contribution of Australia to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, which he said was a successful model for peace-building.
The Secretary assured the Prime Minister of Australia’s ongoing commitment to Solomon Islands’ prosperity, stability and security.
“Solomon Islands is a close, significant and special partner,” she said. Australia’s support for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force is set to continue after RAMSI draws down in June, with the Australian Federal Police to provide training and capacity building, complemented by continuing support for the justice sector and for governance.
Ms Adamson briefed the Prime Minister on her visit program in Solomon Islands. She had a constructive discussion with development partners and civil society leaders who support Australia to deliver development assistance in Solomon Islands of around AU$162 Million – nearly SBD$1 Billion – in 2016-17, Australia’s third largest program in the world. She will also meet students at the Solomon Islands National University School of Technology and Maritime Studies. Australia’s contribution through its Skills for Economic Growth program will total AU$ 71 Million between 2015 and 2019.
The Prime Minister said the Solomon Islands Government welcomes Australia’s support for the restoration of two bridges in East Guadalcanal. This will assist the Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Ltd (GPPOL) expansion, creating potentially 4000 new jobs and up to US$ 200 Million of new foreign direct investment.
The Prime Minister and the Secretary also discussed the great potential of the tourism sector, particularly through cruise ships.
Solomon Islands is growing in popularity as a destination among Australian cruise ship passengers. More cruise ships visits are expected throughout 2017, which will bring economic opportunities for businesses, especially small businesses, in Solomon Islands.