Australian High Commissioner to SI responses to Sogavare's comment on Australian aid
Mr Hooton says that while it was pleasing that Mr Sogavare had welcomed the Australian Prime Minister's announcement of additional assistance to Solomon Islands over the weekend, the reports of his comments greatly understated the value of Australian aid to Solomon Islands.
He says Australia's combined bilateral and regional commitments to Solomon Islands on development-related activities are close to one and a half billion dollars per annum in 2007-08.
On Saturday, Mr Rudd announced an estimated additional 20 million dollars would be provided this year for rehabilitation and maintenance of rural roads.
Mr Hooton says Australia's bilateral aid to Solomon Islands was this year expected to be 183 million dollars but with the additional funds the estimated total for Australia's bilateral aid this year is about 203 million dollars.
He says Australia will also provide about 10 million dollars for the construction of shelters in communities affected by the April 2007 earthquake and tsunami.
In addition to this, Mr Rudd pledged an additional 65 million dollars next year to support work in priority areas including infrastructure development, health, technical education and reforestation.
Mr Hooton says bilateral aid is separate from Australia's funding of RAMSI.