The National Transport Fund Bill 2009 has been passed by Parliament into an Act yesterday.

The National Transport Fund has been proposed to provide a long term sustainable mechanism for funding the maintenance of transport infrastructure and to support the provision of inter-island shipping services which are socially necessary but not commercially viable.

The bill provides for the establishment of the National Transport Fund aimed at supporting the National Transport Plan, which is purposely to encourage Solomon Islanders to actively participate in economic activity.

Minister of Infrastructure Development, Stanley Sofu, said the National Transport Fund is designed to enable money from donors and development agencies and the government to be applied to projects in the transport sector.

"This money will be applied to projects relating to the provision of transport services and development and maintenance of all types of infrastructure," Sofu explained.

The minister said the ratification of the National Transport Fund Act 2009 should be a long awaited initiative and should have some immediate consequences for the provision of shipping services and for the construction and repair of wharves and jetties throughout the country.

Other benefits are in the areas of road construction and maintenance and also the aviation sector.

The Government sees this achievement as a step closer to the proposed establishment of a sector wide approach for the transport sector.

"The establishment of the Fund will always provide avenue for immediate transfer of money from donors and funding agencies for the sector that has been establish expensive project overseas," Mr Sofu said.

He said the government will always be committed to ensuring that infrastructure are timely and well maintained so that service providers will be able to operate profitably therefore improve the services they provide.

The government recognizes the need to establishing and contributing to such a fund and the recognition is reflected in the allocation in excess of $50 million in the 2009 budget.

The Board of Management of the National Transport fund would include both Government officials and representatives of the current donors to the National Transport fund.

The board will be responsible to parliament through the Minister of Finance.

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