The US Department of State has recently announced new funding investments of US$200 million for the Indo Pacific as part of its Pacific Pledge. Under this umbrella of support to the Region is a US$25 million support package for the (SCALE) project in Solomon Islands.

In a statement released recently the National Government says that it is looking forward to discussing with relevant US Government Officials on this funding component for Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, Livelihoods and Environment (SCALE) Program focusing on Malaita Province.

According to a statement from the US State Department last week, the SCALE Program will strengthen the enabling environment to unlock economic opportunity and increase trade; improve natural resource management, including forest governance; promote agribusiness and small enterprise development; and expand critical small-scale infrastructure and essential services.

While welcoming the assistance, the Solomon Islands Government said in a statement on Sunday that the next steps towards rolling out the programme would involve developing a programme document and detailed workplan.

These processes and the relevant documentation will have to go through the appropriate Solomon Islands Government channels for Aid Delivery as per the National Aid Management and Development Cooperation Policy.

This will require technical discussions on specific focus areas and activities with technical line ministries to ensure that clear gaps and needs areas are addressed and enhance synergies whilst avoiding overlaps and duplications with other similar initiatives.

The Programme concept will also have to go through to Cabinet for its necessary deliberation and approval. The SCALE is a comprehensive multisector approach both at the national and provincial level.

The primary goal of the SCALE is to advance Solomon Islands economic competitiveness and inclusiveness with specific emphasis on the development of agribusiness sector and improved management of the forestry sector.

This will be achieved through three (3) programme sub-objectives inclusive of (a) to improve the enabling environment for increased trade and investment. This is a national level component of the SCALE, aimed at strengthening national trade and investment Policy through Technical Assistance/ advisory services, (b) Promoting the expansion and further development of the agribusiness sector, through support towards agribusiness development in fisheries and agriculture and supporting agribusiness value chain, (c) Improving governance of the forestry sector, potentially targeting agroforestry, forest restoration, some small grants assistance and peer to peer learning.

The SCALE programme will be delivered through five implementing Partners, which are Nathan and Associates; Social Solutions International; Green Power Tech; Winrock International; and DAI. These implementing partners will be undertaking further community consultations on the activities that the programme will support.

An actual programme rollout is expected to begin in 2021.

Meanwhile, the National Government wishes to caution certain groups and individuals within the country, especially, the people of Malaita Province to respect proper Government processes and mechanisms in dealing with aid assistance.

The Government is aware of propaganda from various groups and individuals who are sharing inaccurate information on social media forums, which potentially has negative implications that are capable of misleading the public.

The Government urges the public to refrain from publishing comments and politicizing foreign aid without the pre-requisite knowledge and understanding of the various processes and mechanisms involved with receipt and distribution of aid assistance from our development partners. Such publication will only promote confusion and misinformation.

The Ministry of National Planning and Aid Coordination is the responsible ministry for aid assistance and coordination and persons wishing to know more about the process should contact the Ministry.

The next consultative meeting with the SIG and the US is tentatively scheduled for November 2020.

Source: GCU Press Release