Australia pledges $2bn in loans and grants to Pacific island nations

Delegates attend the Governors seminar during the Asia Development Bank 52nd Annual Meeting at Denarau Nadi. Picture: REINAL CHAND

AUSTRALIA has pledged about $2 billion in loans and grants to Pacific Island nations through a new initiative targeting the water and infrastructure sectors.

Speaking at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting in Nadi on Wednesday, Australian High Commissioner John Feakes said the Australia Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in November last year.

“It is a $2b facility, $1.5b worth of loans and $500 million worth of grants,” he said.

“If you add a loan component with a grant component you get a highly concessional offering and we’re looking in particular at the water, transport and the power sector.

“In the power sector, we’re looking at renewable energy which is very relevant here and the Prime Minister made clear that we’d be looking very clearly at the Nadi River project, which the ADB and Japan through JICA are involved in as well.

“We will have this operational by July 1 and we’ll be looking for projects to fund. It’s designed to provide another alternative for countries looking to finance economic infrastructure.

“We’re looking at high quality, disaster and climate resilient infrastructure. One of the criteria will be local labour and local expertise.

“We’ll be looking at ensuring that people working on these projects, we transfer skills to them so after the project is over, they have thaose skills with them.”

Mr Feakes said all Pacific countries were eligible to apply for the loans and grants but some countries, with their levels of debt, would not be eligible for loans but would be for grants.

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