31st August 2020, HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS – The European Union and the Government of Solomon Islands have today signed a new Financing Agreement, which will see the EU provide EUR 8 million or nearly SBD 78 million to the Government of Solomon Islands to strengthen the Provinical Government’s governance system for service delivery within the provinces.
This EU support will enable the Provinces receive predictable sector grants for health and education. These grants will be planned, disbursed and implemented following an integrated planning and coordination system agreed between the Provincial Governments and the decentralized administrations in charge of Education and Health.
The “Provincial Governance and service delivery in the Solomon Islands Project” under the 11th European Union Development Funds is expected to further consolidate and support the results of the Provincial Government Strengthening Program (PGSP), a program also supported by the European Union that commenced in 2008 and which has has played an important role in the development of rural areas of the country through the discretionary performance-based grant system Provincial Capacity Development Fund (PCDF). This agreement will allow the provinces to continue providing access to essential services to the population that has been affected by the COVID-19 crises.
The EU Ambassador to Solomon Islands and for the Pacific, His Excellency Sujiro Seam in the zoom video ceremony said: “The population of the Solomon Islands is spread out across many islands and the Provincial Governments are therefore on the frontline of service delivery for the Solomon Islanders. Recognizing this reality, the EU support to local governance in the Solomon Islands will help improve the efficiency of the response to the COVID-19 crisis, especially in the key sectors of health and education.”
Under the 10th and 11th European Development Fund (EDF), the Government of Solomon Islands and the EU have been working together to improve living conditions of the rural areas through better community infrastructures and services, including water and sanitation. The EU will continue to accompany the efforts of national and provincial governments to bettering quality and availability of essential services with this action. The EDF also feeds into regional architecture which contributes to the ACP-EU Post Cotonou Agreement that the Solomon Islands is part of.
The Honourable Minister for National Planning and Development Coordination, Rexson Ramofafia acknowledged the ongoing collaboration and partnership between the European Union and the Solomon Islands Government saying “Today’s signing of the Financing Agreement indeed marks another important milestone in the partnership between Solomon Islands Government and the European Commission.”
Minister Ramofafia stated that the project will help address a number of key fundamental areas. Firstly, it responds to the NDS call for ensuring effective governance at the local provincial level, which is a necessary element in creating an enabling environment for effective service delivery. Secondly, a specific focus on the health and education sectors ensures that there is a targeted approach in the provision of financial resources for service delivery at the provincial level.
The objectives of this project also align well to the objectives of the National Development Strategy; in particular, NDS Objective three (3), which puts particular emphasis on enhancing access to quality education and health services, and NDS objective five (5), “ unified nation with stable and effective governance’. This also links to SDG 3 on good health and well-being, SDG 4 on quality education and SDG 16 and 17 on peace, justice and strong institutions and effective partnerships.
Mr. Ramofafia said, “Effective governance, good health and quality education have a central position in sustainable development. Improvements in health and education leads to wider improvements in other aspects of people’s livelihoods and wellbeing. Effective governance on the other hand is an important enabler for efficient and effective service delivery.”
The Minister mentioned that the project will continue to uphold past successes and build on lessons learnt, further stating that “During this time of the Covid 19 pandemic, the implementation of this project will also contribute to ensuring that normal service delivery continues and that development gains will continue to be sustained.”
The Minister thanked the EU and extended sincere appreciation for the continued support to the development aspirations of Solomon Islands and assured the Solomon Islands Government will continue to work closely with the EU and all our development partners to address pressing challenges and progress our national development priorities.
The Solomon Islands High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji, HE William Soaki, also assures his missions’ continued support towards the EU Delegation office in Suva, Fiji.