Thursday, 22 May 2008 2:41 PM

Australian Aid Increase to Support Solomon Islands Rural Development

Australia has increased its bilateral development assistance to Solomon Islands to SBD260 million (AUD40 million) to help bring development to rural people. The increase is part of the Australian Government's 2008-09 Budget announced on 13 May.

Australia's High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Peter Hooton, said "The increase in Australia's development assistance to Solomon Islands includes additional funding of SBD65 million (AUD10 million) announced by Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, during his visit here in March this year."

"The additional funding will help the Solomon Islands Government achieve its rural development priorities including better roads, clean water and electricity, and contribute to the growth and development of community forestry. Australia will also continue to focus on improving health service delivery."

Australia's development assistance to Solomon Islands comes through its bilateral program and through its contributions to RAMSI. The increase in funding to Solomon Islands and other Pacific island countries announced last week in the Australian Government's 2008-09 Budget is part of a long-term commitment to increase Official Development Assistance to 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income by 2015-16.

Mr. Hooton said that the focus of the 2008-09 Budget increases are on practical development outcomes for regional neighbours to achieve the objectives of Prime Minister Rudd's March 2008 Port Moresby Declaration.

"The Australian Prime Minister made a commitment to help Pacific island countries make faster progress towards the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals and these increases will help our neighbours make that happen."

In total, Australia will provide an estimated AUD3.7 billion in development assistance in 2008-09. Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and other Pacific island countries will again be the largest recipients of Australian aid with almost AUD1 billion in total development assistance. This budget is a real increase in total Australian assistance of AUD505 million to Australia's neighbours and development partners.

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