Ministers at the Sixth meeting of the Forum Ministerial Standing Committee have welcomed the improvements across the Solomon Islands since the arrival of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2003 as it also discusses RAMSIâ€™s transition.
This was stated in the outcomes statement released at the end of the Forum Ministerial Standing Committee meeting on Friday.
The statement revealed that Ministers have noted the implementation of the SIG-RAMSI Partnership Framework to date reflected a clear expression of the collaborative working relationship between the two parties.
The Joint Performance Oversight Group (JPOG), co-chaired by the Acting Prime Minister of Solomon Islands and the Special Coordinator of RAMSI, continued to provide transparency and close collaboration between the SIG and RAMSI.
The Solomon Islands Foreign Minister, Clay Forau noted that discussions around the issue of transition offered an opportunity for the Solomon Islands to review, re-assess and re-evaluate its own level of commitment to the Partnership Framework and to identify its priorities and responsibilities to ensure a faultless transition.
Ministers noted the 2011 Annual Performance Report prepared by the Independent Experts Team which reported on SIG-RAMSI achievements under the Partnership Framework, including strong economic performance.
Ministers noted that discussions were underway on the transition of assistance under RAMSIâ€™s three development pillars to bilateral and other donors by 1 July 2013.
Australia and New Zealand expressed their willingness to take up RAMSI development activities under bilateral programmes.
Ministers further noted the importance of deeper engagement with other donors, and for SIG to take the lead through existin consultation and coordination mechanisms to plan out development transition priorities and responsibilities.
The Ministers highlighted the importance, as the process continued towards mid-2013, of further careful consultation amongst government contributing countries, and above all within Solomon Islands.
Ministers further noted that additional work was required on the part of relevant SIG ministries to identify their priorities as soon as possible.
The outcome statement further stated that the Ministers have highlighted the continuing importance of consultative mechanisms and the role of the Forum in the oversight of RAMSI.
â€œIt would be appropriate to consider and make recommendations on the future of the Partnership Framework, the Enhanced Consultative Mechanism (ECM) and the FMSC, and the ongoing role of the Forum Regional Security Committee Meeting,â€ the statement added.
Meanwhile, during the Ministersâ€™ meeting with the press, the Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister reiterated that the government wants the transition process to be done in close consultation with RAMSI.
Mr. Forau however, emphasized that the mission needs to clarify its actual spending on its development programs.
He said this is to ensure proper government planning to fill anticipated gaps during and after RAMSI's transition.
â€œWe must talk with RAMSI and find out what areas they will draw down on and we know and be able to plan ahead in order to work on measure to fill in the gabs. Like in some areas where RAMSI will draw down on, we can beef up.
â€œWe want RAMSI to come out clear on what they want to cut down, and we need to increase ourselves in those areas. â€œâ€¦we must always talk with RAMSI and they too must talk with us on what areas we need to work together on prior to the transition,â€ the Foreign Minister expressed.
He explained that this is in terms of creating the right budgeting, and added that if RAMSI draws down on a certain sector in the government, so the government can be able to asses and increase the budget for this particular sector.