The Republic of China's Ambassador to Solomon Islands, His Excellency George Chan has formally released the first payment of the "2009 Constituency and Rural Development Fund" of SBD$10 million to Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua in Honiara yesterday.

The total funding covers ROC's (Taiwan's) triple assistance schemes to Solomon Islands including the Rural Constituency Development Fund (RCDF), the Micro Project Scheme for grassroots development and the Millennium Development Fund (MDF).

Ambassador Chan said Taiwan's commitment to Solomon Islands continues to prevail although his country "is not exempted from the global financial crisis and is suffering from the economic recession."

"Under this kind of difficult circumstances, Taiwan still commits itself in helping Solomon Islands," he said. "It demonstrates once again the cordial relationship between our two countries."

Ambassador Chan once again emphasized that funds "will go down to the core of the rural areas and definitely will improve the quality of life of the rural communities."

Clarifying an earlier request for MPs to provide full retirement reports on respective constituency spending in 2008, Mr Chan explained that the early release of funds this month is to show Taiwan's firm support to the CNURA regime while waiting for retirement reports which are due at the end of March 2009.

Ambassador Chan also acknowledged Prime Minister Sikua's assurance that full retirement reports will be submitted to the Taiwan Embassy by the end of March 2009 in line with the transparent and accountable manner.

Prime Minister Sikua expressed appreciation on behalf of the Government of Solomon Islands to the Government of ROC (Taiwan) for the firm and timely support.

Dr Sikua added that he will immediately channel the funds through the Ministry of Rural Development and Indigenous Affairs which will administer further disbursement of funds to respective MPs.

"The Ministry for Rural Development will undertake the task to provide the Embassy with spending reports in due time," said Deputy Prime Minister Fred Fono who is responsible for rural development.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sikua strongly believed that the fund will contribute enormously to the alleviation of poverty and improvements to the quality of rural area people.

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