Australia pledges $20 million to ‘partner of choice’ Samoa

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The Australian government has announced they will pledge AUD$20 million (US$13 million) of additional budget support to Samoa.

Labor will deliver this financial support to pensioners and people with disabilities because Australia is Samoa’s “partner of choice”, says Minister for International Development Pat Conroy.

“That money has gone out to support to pensioners and people with disabilities within Samoa to really survive at the moment with the COVID-induced recession and that’s a critical part in being a partner of choice,” Conroy told Sky News Australia.

Minister Conroy thanked the Prime Minister for Samoa’s strong leadership in the region and reaffirmed Australia’s shared commitment to building a stronger, more cohesive and resilient Pacific.

A meeting with Minister of Finance, Mulipola Anarosa Ale Molio’o, was an opportunity to discuss how Samoa and Australia are working together in support of Samoa’s development priorities towards a more resilient future. Both Ministers were pleased to jointly announce AUD$20 million (approx. WST36 million) in budget support, and a new eight-year partnership focused on Samoa’s economic growth and governance priorities.

“This new partnership, ‘Tautai – Governance for Economic Growth’, will support Samoa’s continued economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, jointly delivering projects to improve livelihoods for Samoans,” Minister Conroy said.

Tautai complements the eight-year ‘Tautua – Human Development for All’ partnership announced by Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong, during her visit to Samoa in June 2022. Ministers Conroy and Mulipola together signed administrative arrangements for the two partnerships.

“Along with Australia’s long-term commitment to budget support through Samoa’s own systems, these new partnerships will provide Samoa with greater ability to focus on the government services that matter most,” Minister Conroy said.

Minister Mulipola expressed appreciation of the use of country systems that will ensure effective delivery of the budget support and the dedicated Tautai and Tautua partnerships. “We continue to advocate for the use of national systems and processes to the extent possible for delivery of funded programs, so that our systems and processes become more responsive and resilient,” Minister Mulipola said.

“Samoa welcomes the focus of both the Tautua and Tautai facilities. I am pleased to say that these two flagship investments directly support the Government’s priorities and we acknowledge the alignment of the key objectives of the programs to the Pathway for the Development of Samoa and its theme of “Empowering communities, building resilience and inspiring growth,” Minister Mulipola said.

Samoa and Australia have a longstanding partnership investing in Samoa’s people through our cooperation in education, skills, training, and scholarships. Minister Conroy was inspired to meet Australia Awards alumni to learn more about the impact of scholarships on the next generation of Samoa’s leaders, while experiencing first-hand the hospitality and cooking skills of Samoan students training with the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC).

Minister Conroy also visited the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and met with Director General Sefanaia Nawadra and Samoa’s Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, the Hon Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, to learn more about the key work being carried out by SPREP’s Pacific Climate Change Centre. As a key financing partner and a founding member of SPREP, Australia remains committed to supporting SPREP’s efforts in building resilience in the Blue Pacific region, recognising the crucial role of SPREP plays on the international stage in addressing the existential threat of climate change.

On the final day of his visit (13 April), Minister Conroy will focus on the security and people-to-people links between Samoa and Australia, including partnerships in policing and maritime security, and enduring sporting connections.

SOURCE: SKY NEWS/SAMOA GOVT/PACNEWS