19 Sep 2006

Solomons Prime Minister rejects claims that he said RAMSI has failed

10:09 am on 19 September 2006

The Solomons Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, is dismissing a Reuters report that he had said the Australian-led intervention had failed.

Mr Sogavare has been embroiled in a row with Canberra for a week after expelling Australian High Commissioner, Patrick Cole.

The stand off prompted prime minister John Howard to question the aid provided, saying Australian taxpayers need to see value for money.

Reuters says Mr Sogavare had accused Canberra of diplomatic bullying, saying RAMSI had not dealt with the country's underlying problems and was too focussed on being visible on the streets.

But Mr Sogavare says the point he was trying to make was that much of the aid from Canberra is in fact boomerang aid, with most of the benefit going to Australian officials.

"Let me be clear in reference to RAMSI failing. That is a misrepresentation of what I was saying. I was talking about the impact of the eight hundred million dollars they are talking about. In fact only about twenty per cent of that amount - or less than that - is actually spent here in Solomon Islands."