By Alfred Sasako
SOLOMON Islands and China have signed a multi-million dollar deal which will go a long way in easing Solomons’ financial burdens.
The deal will boost Solomons’ preparedness measures against any possible entry by covid-19, and paves the way for work to start on the development of facilities for the 2023 Games.
Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele and China’s Chargé d’affaires, Yao Ming, signed the legally-binding document at the Exchange of Notes ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in Honiara on Wednesday 15th April.
Minister Manele also received on behalf of the Government financial assistance from China – $2.5 million to help the Government in its fight to keep the COVID-19 at bay as well as $800, 000 from the China Red Cross Society to help in the rehabilitation work following tropical Cyclone Harold, which hit Makira/Ulawa, Guadalcanal and Renbel Provinces earlier this year.
Part of the $2.5 million has been used to buy laboratory equipment and test kits, which are to arrive by air and sea in Honiara over the weekend.
Speaking at the ceremony, Foreign Minister Manele painted a glowing picture of Solomon Islands-Sino relations, since both countries have normalized relations only about six months ago.
“Our relationship has not only developed, but has consolidated,” the Minister said.
Mr. Manele said funding from China would be used to build, among other things, the National Stadium with an 11, 000 seating capacity, an Aquatic Centre along with field tracks and other facilities.
He said funding from China and other donors such as Indonesia, which would be building the Games’ Indoor Sports Complex, now account for 80 per cent of the initial cost of the facilities, estimated at USD100 million.
China’s Chargé d’affaires, Yao Ming said he was honored and privileged to represent China in the signing and exchange of notes, which he said, had now completed one of the most important steps in realizing China’s commitment to help Solomon Islands host a successful Pacific Games in 2023.
“These are important government-to-government documents. It represents our gift to our friends in Solomon Islands. For us as Chinese, when it comes to friendship, hardships and difficulties, Chinese people will always wish to help,” Mr. Yao said.
Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, Jimmy Rodgers, earlier told the ceremony funding by China would cover the cost of the “substantial amount of the facilities.”
“The signing and exchange of notes signifies commitment by the two governments to start the work,” Dr. Rodgers said.
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