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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Opposition leader thanked Rudd for visiting Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands Parliamentary Opposition has thanked Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd for his brief visit to Honiara at the weekend.

Opposition Leader, Manasseh Sogavare says as a responsible alternate Government, the Opposition also welcomes the announcement by Mr Rudd to continue maintain Australia's Assistance to Solomon islands.

Mr Sogavare was referring to the announcement by Mr Rudd saying Australia would increase its current aid level of 80 million dollars a year to 96 million dollars a year.

But while appreciating the assistance, the opposition leader says it is important to distinguish how much of the aid assistance provides realistic benefits to the people of Solomon Islands.

Mr Sogavare says that the normal level of Australian aid assistance to Solomon Islands over the years prior to the arrival of the Regional Assistance to Solomon Islands, RAMSI, was fluctuating between 15 and 16 million dollars a year.

He says the arrival of RAMSI in 2003 saw a big boost to 80 million dollars a year and had continued to be maintained at the same level to date.

"At the end of the day, the assistance they give, about 80 percent of that is spent back in Australia. Some people have referred to it as boomerang aid because of the objectives of the Australia aid policy to Solomon Islands. One is to further their strategic interest, to support their commercial interest and also to protect their national interest."

Mr Sogavare says what the country wants to see is help that provides meaningful improvement in the lives of many ordinary Solomon islanders.

Source: SIBC

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