Australia offers more assistance to Samoa

Samoa is set to receive AU$39.7 million (WST$79.5 million) in an increase in funding from Australia’s foreign aid budget, new figures announced by the country’s government show.

The Australian Government unveiled the country's federal budget on Tuesday, including its foreign aid budget.

The Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, Sara Moriarty, stated that Australia remains focused on the needs of their immediate neighbourhood.

“The 2021-22 Overseas Development Assistance [...] budget will see us maintain a record AU$1.44 billion in funding to the Pacific, including AU$39.7 million for Samoa (up from $37.2 million in 2020-21),” she said.

Australia’s foreign assistance programme is a key part of the Government’s Pacific Step-Up foreign policy initiative designed to improve its relationships in the region. 

“[Assistance] will remain focused on three main pillars; critical health security, stability and economic recovery,” she said.

“The [strategy] is a reflection of the priority we place on supporting our regions’ response to and recovery from the global pandemic.

“We remain the largest bilateral donor to the Pacific and our overall contribution to our Pacific family’s security, stability and development also includes loans, labour mobility, trade and security engagement.”

According to Ms. Moriarty, Australia will continue to provide AU$4 billion in 2021-2022.

“Our development program is an investment in an open, inclusive and resilient Indo‑Pacific region,” she said.

“Our development efforts work in lockstep with our diplomatic, defence and economic engagement to support our region to address the devastating impacts of COVID-19.

“In addition to our ongoing [aid] budget, we will provide AU$156 million in supplementary [aid] funding to address the economic impacts of the pandemic in 2021-22, including AU$100 million to maintain essential health and other services, protect the most vulnerable people, and help support economic recovery."

Significant non-donation based by Australia complement the impact of their development programme, for example, loans through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific and the $2 billion Pacific Maritime Security Program, added Ms. Moriarty.

“Supporting women to take a central role is key to an effective response and sustainable recovery from COVID-19,” the High Commissioner said.

“The Government is contributing an estimated AU$1.3 billion to support gender equality across the development programme.

“As part of this, we will maintain the increase in funding for the Indo-Pacific Gender Equality Fund at AU$65 million in 2021-22 (up from AU$55 million in 2019-20) to support women and girls’ voices and leadership in COVID-19 response and recovery, to enhance their safety, economic security, and health and well-being.”

She added that Australia is working with the region to address climate change and reduce emissions.

“We are increasing our global climate finance by 50 per cent to AU$1.5 billion between 2020 and 2025 and ensuring climate change is integrated across Australia’s entire development program,” she said.

“As part of this, we will provide $40 million in 2021–22 for the Australian Climate Finance Partnership which is expected to generate a total portfolio of AU$700 million in low emission, climate‑resilient investments in our region over 10 years.”

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