Australia Increases Development Aid To Fiji By 18 Percent

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Fiji government welcomes pledge worth $56.9 million

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 21, 2013) – The Australian Government has announced that it will provide a record FJ$105.5 million (AU$58.2 million, or US$56.9 million) in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Fiji in the 2013-14 financial year.

The allocation is an 18 percent increase from the previous years allocation of FJ$89 million (AU$49.2 million or US$48.1 million).

The Fijian Government has welcomed the official development assistance which has increased over the years and thanked Australia for their support.

Finance permanent secretary Filimone Waqabaca said the government welcomed the focus on poverty eradication programs, education, elections and health which were priority areas of government.

"We hope that in due course, some of this ODA can be channeled through the government system to provide budgetary support for the other competing priorities of government. Currently, some of the assistance is channeled through NGOs," Mr. Waqabaca said.

He said the assistance was nevertheless acknowledged.

Australia's Counselor for Development Assistance in Fiji Joanne Choe says they were proud to announce that for the first time, the Australian Government would provide over FJ$100 million [US$54.3 million] in aid funding.

Ms. Choe said this demonstrated the Australian Government's unwavering commitment to the people of Fiji.

She said the increased aid flows deliver on the Australian Government's promise to double the size of AusAID's bilateral budget to Fiji over two years.

"Managed from the Australian High Commission by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Australia's aid program is focused on reducing poverty and improving basic health and education services in Fiji.

"AusAID is helping the poorest children to attend school more regularly and working to see more babies growing safely through their early years. We are also helping to promote food security and increase incomes for poor families. With this increased allocation, we will be able to improve the lives of tens of thousands more people and to reach every province of Fiji."

She said Australia also remained committed to supporting credible steps towards democratic elections, building on the provision of FJ$4.79 million (AU$2.65 million, or US$2.6 million) for electronic voter registration, constitution development and civic education in 2012.

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