24 Sep 2003

NZ prime minister says hard work in Solomon Islands still to be tackled

5:49 pm on 24 September 2003

The New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark says in doing their work the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands must continue to maintain the support of the locals.

Miss Clark has just completed a brief tour of security forces in the Solomons and she says they seem in good spirits.

However Miss Clark has warned if any doubts exist among locals about RAMSI's methods or motives then the mission would not succeed.

Miss Clark says the most difficult stage of the mission is approaching.

"The tough part of the job that is only just beginning is getting the Solomon Islands' finances in good shape and starting to work with the donor community on the National Economic Development and Recovery Plan. In addition there has been a lot of lost years in Education and Health policy and service, and that needs to be put to rights as soon as possible."

Miss Clark has announced that New Zealand will contribute 595-thousand US dollars towards the cost of providing reliable electricity supply to the Solomon Islands capital Honiara.

Miss Clark made the surprise announcement after a New Zealand diplomat had said no funding additional to the budgeted aid was to be disbursed.

She says without electricity the economy and society struggle to function and the quality of health and education services suffer.

She says reliable services such as electricity and water are also essential for business and to attract investment.