Posted by : Posted on : 03-Jun-2020

With an eye on Solomon Islands:  More funding to help address the Covid-19 pandemic

According to a press release today from the IMF, the Executive Board of the IMF has approved a disbursement to the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands (CBSI) for an amount of SDR20,8 million (about US$28.5 million, 100 percent of quota).

According to Mr. Tao Zhang, the Deputy Managing Director and Chair of the IMF, “The global and domestic measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are severely affecting the Solomon Islands economy, through their impact on commodities exports, tourism and domestic activity.”

Mr. Tsang reportedly added, “These have given rise to an urgent balance of payments needs. The IMF support under the Rapid Financing Instrument and Rapid Credit Facility, in addition to the recent approval of debt service relief under the CCRT, will help address immediate financing needs and catalyze additional support from other development partners”

“The IMF financial support will make a substantial contribution to filling immediate external financing needs that have emerged due to COVID-19.”

In separate news, also today, it has been reported that Australia will commit $3.5 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Pacific Health Sector Support Plan (phase II) which will facilitate the delivery of health advice and supplies to Pacific Island countries.

“The Australian Government is working in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum to contribute to its initiative to establish a Pacific Humanitarian Pathway amid global supply chain disruptions.

“This vital Forum initiative ensures the passage of humanitarian and medical supplies within the Pacific as we work together to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Hon Simon Kofe, Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers, welcomed the initiative and said: “Australia’s support will ensure that the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway will be able to deliver much needed humanitarian and medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its actions, Australia is working to achieve values of family ties and care for neighbours throughout the Pacific.”

Australia will also provide $5.5 million to the World Food Programme to support efforts to manage COVID-19 in the region. This includes $4 million for air transport and logistics services for the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway, the delivery of humanitarian and critical medical supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment, and assessments of the impact of COVID-19 on food security in the Pacific.

 “We welcome Australia’s strong support for the Pacific’s regional response to COVID-19,” said Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor. “We are working together to deliver an efficient and effective Pacific Humanitarian Pathway, and are ensuring Pacific voices and ownership are at the heart of our response to COVID-19.”

This unprecedented crisis is threatening the health, wellbeing, and security of all Pacific peoples. By working as one region, we will get through this time of hardship together.”

Source: Solomon Star News.

The Chair of the IMF mentioned in the press release from his organisation how the travel industry in the Solomon Islands had suffered as consequence of the COVID-19 threat and it was of interest to learn from a Radio New Zealand news bulletin this morning that pressure is mounting for New Zealand to make a Pacific bubble a priority along with, or even ahead of, opening its borders with Australia,

The Cook Islands News reports the International Pilots Association has formally requested that a New Zealand-Australia travel zone be extended to Pacific nations including Fiji, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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