Posted by : Posted on : 24-May-2019

24 May 2019

Solomon Islands:   Funding support to further the DCGA’s development plans

China is currently the Solomon Islands largest trading partner, largely driven by China’s demand for lumber.  The tropical forests have receded at an alarming rate and contributed to a loss of bio-diversity, the ecosystem and a loss of habitat for native animals and bird species.

The DCGA needs to generate revenue to fund the development ideas initially outlined to be in the early planning phase, but how the government will be able to fulfill its development goals will be a major issue, given a flattening off of donor aid and falling revenue from diminishing timber exports.

A US$51 million grant from the World Bank for infrastructure projects in Honiara, Munda and in Malaita will, no doubt, have come in the nick of time to help the DCGA upgrade key roads and upgrade the facilities at the Henderson Airport and the one in Munda

The grant I refer to was approved in Washington in late March this year and comprises US$30.5 million credit for the improvements to key roads and the two airports, plus a US$20.5 million grant

The US$30.5 million credit and the US$20.5 million grant come from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries; and will be complemented by US$3.6 million contribution from the Solomon Islands Government.

A press release from the World Bank at the time the US$51 million infrastructure project was approved read, in part:

“The project’s aviation investment includes new communications and navigation equipment, including updated runway overlays, at both Honiara and Munda airports; as well as new airfield lighting, automatic weather observation systems, together with a new fire rescue vehicle station at Honiara, the country’s key international airport. Works at Munda Airport will include construction of a new terminal building, cargo facilities with an integrated flight service tower, and installation of navigation and communication equipment.

“The project’s road component will see a significant upgrading and maintenance of the 232-kilometer main road network in Malaita to improve climate resilience, including resealing of the Province’s existing 17 kilometers of sealed roads, the upgrade of four bridges, improvement of key vulnerable spots, improved safety, together with multi-year grading, resurfacing, and routine maintenance support. Innovative bridge technologies will also be potentially piloted through this project, aiming to further enhance the sustainability of the network. An estimated 110,000 people live near the planned road works and will see significant benefits including safer and more secure roads, as well as ongoing maintenance work opportunities.”

Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands said in the press release (quote)

 “This is an investment in Solomon Islands that will have positive impacts across countless sectors: tourism, education, manufacturing, resources and health; to name but a few. This is the World Bank’s first major transport infrastructure project in Solomon Islands since the mid-1980s, and we are proud to be helping deliver such an important nation-building infrastructure project for Solomon Islanders.”

To compliment the substantial infrastructure project funding, I wrote yesterday that the World Bank had approved another grant for US$15 million for a joint project with the Asia Development Bank for the rehabilitation, expansion of water production and for treatment systems.

This particular project is co-financed by the World Bank, through the International Development Association (IDA) the World Bank’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Union through the Investment Facility for the Pacific (IFP) and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Finance and Treasury. The grant will be implemented by Solomon Water.

It is hoped this project will not only improve water supply and sanitation services, it will also strengthen Solomon Islands’ resilience to climate change, supporting the introduction of best practice technology adopted by advanced water utilities around the world.

“Safe, secure and well-maintained airports and roads are essential to the economic and social development of Solomon Islands,” said Hon. Manasseh Sogavare recently.

Let us hope the PM’s observations will be evident soon with the funding support from the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank and coming at a time when the DCGA is still shaping its policy direction and examining its funding sources.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short


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