4 February 2019
Solomon Islands selection to the MCC Threshold Programme.
During a press conference in Honiara last Thursday the Caretaker Prime Minister, Rick Hou, spoke of priority investment areas from education, health, youth affairs and renewable energy.
Quoting the Solomon Star newspaper, yesterday, Sunday, the PM said:
“Our health and education sectors remain key areas for major infrastructure investments. What stops us from rolling out health services to all rural health facilities is simply – the lack of accommodation facilities for our health workers such as doctors and nurses as well as sub-standard facilities. And much of that is also to do with land-related issues.
“A similar picture exists in education. Major investment in staff accommodation in all our provincial health facilities and schools is the first step to improving health and education services throughout the country,” he said.
The Prime Minister also highlighted that the Government will also explore innovative sectoral investment initiatives to drive economic outcomes across a range of sectors such as, investment in renewable energy in provinces through possible construction of hydroelectric dams wherever possible.
The PM’s statements came about after he had received an official letter from Mrs Keithie Saunders, the US Consular Agent in Honiara, which had given news of Solomon Islands’ selection to participate under the MCC threshold programme.
“The (US) Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an independent US foreign assistance agency, which was established with broad bipartisan support in January 2004.
“The agency is designed to deliver aid differently, with a mission and model reflecting key principles of aid effectiveness.
“The MCC’s threshold programme supports targeted policy reform activities to help a country achieve compact eligibility. The threshold programme is much smaller, accounting for only five percent of MCC’s total programme spending since 2004. Countries typically complete threshold programmes in two to three years. The average cost of a programme is around $20 million. Approximately three-quarters of threshold programmes have supported anti-corruption policy reforms. Threshold programme funds have also funded activities in other policy areas, including primary education, public health (immunization), business regulatory policy, and fiscal policy.”
Mr. Hou said during his Thursday press conference the inclusion of Solomon Islands in MCC’s "Threshold programme" demonstrates the increasing attention being paid by the United States to the plight, as well as the strategic nature of the partnership with Solomon Islands.”
“It further deepens the already existing inseparable bond between our two countries, which was forged during the Second World War and beyond.
“Solomon Islands had been trying to get access to the MCC programme over the years without success. In our Pacific region, only Vanuatu had ever received an MCC funded programme,” he said.
The funding package of the Threshold Programme ranges from USD$6 million to US$55 Million usually over 4 years.
"A core element of MCC is based on “country ownership" and the programme works in partnership with eligible countries to develop and implement an aid programme on the premise that investments are more likely to be effective and sustained if they reflect the country’s own priorities and strengthen the partner government’s accountability to its citizens."
If the Solomon Islands does receive a funding package from the MCC Threshold Programme it is to be hoped the investment will deliver on the priorities as intended.