PM Sogavare Discusses Existing, New Bilateral Programmes With PM O’Neill

Prime Minister Sogavare, left, with Prime Minister O'Neill at the conclusion of their dialogue in Port Moresby last week.

A joint working group consisting of Solomon Islands Government and Papua New Guinea Government officials has been tasked to review the existing bilaterial programmes between the Melanesian neigbours with the intention of improving them.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Hon Manasseh Sogavare and his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Hon Peter O’Neill used the opportunity of their MSG consultation in Port Moresby last week to also discuss existing bilaterial programmes between their two countries with the view of improving on them as well as to embark on the next bilateral programmes for meaningful engagements and consultation.

The two leaders in their meeting agreed on, a joint Solomon Islands-PNG Working Group to meet in Honiara later this year, to appraise the existing bilateral arrangements and Memorandum of Understanding documents for focus impacts and result-oriented outcomes.

The existing bilaterial programmes include Grant assistance (Budget support), Police Training and Attachments in the area of Law and Order, Human Resources Development in terms of tertiary scholarship (bilateral), quarantine and research attachments in the area of Agriculture as well as Trade and Investments.

As discussed between the two Prime Ministers, the next bilateral programmes between Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea will focus on Development Cooperation, Joint Border Cooperation, Judiciary Services, People To People arrangements and Financial support or resourcing of these programs.

They deliberated on putting in place an overaching framework for better governance and management of these Programs and binding instruments.

The programmes are aimed at ensuring a joint partnership for development arrangement capturing and reflecting SI-PNG Government policies and priorities.

On the Joint Border Cooperation, they agreed on the re-establishment of a Joint Border Committee, its Secretariat and a realistic Work Programme.   The Programme should prioritise establishment of border posts at strategic locations as reporting and entry points.

On Finance, the two Prime Ministers discussed possible PNG budget support towards Solomon Islands Government priorities such as infrastructure programmes, complimenting its ongoing programs in feeder roads and proper drainage.

On People to People programmes, the two Prime Ministers discussed possible administrative arrangements for uniformity between their two countries in scholarships as well as the promotion of their unique cultures through renowned festivals and anniversaries.

On tourism, the two Prime Ministers discussed the possibility of Solomon Islands and PNG sharing their tourism experiences as a way forward in helping each in develping their respective tourism industry.

The new bilateral programmes will be further discussed at the officials’ level before MOUs can be drawn up, finalised and signed between the Governments of Solomon Islands and PNG.