The Australian Government has extended a grant of AUD 12.5 million to boost the Fijian Government’s Fiji Cyclone Recovery Program which will focus on the rehabilitation of school buildings damaged by Tropical Cyclone Yasa.
This follows the signing of a direct funding arrangement on Friday between the Fijian and Australian Governments which should see the funds being utilized over the next three fiscal periods (2021-2022, 2022-2023 and 2023-2024) as the projects progress.
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the past few months have been very challenging for Fiji as Fiji was hit by two tropical cyclones - TC Yasa in December 2020 and TC Ana in February 2021, and a massive second wave of COVID-19.
Sayed-Khaiyum says category 5 TC Yasa hit Fiji just 8 months after TC Harold which caused widespread damage to the south-eastern parts of Fiji, causing 4 casualties, affecting 139,259 people, and caused significant damage to public infrastructure.
He further says soon after, the Fijian Government developed the Tropical Cyclone Yasa Response and Recovery Plan which identified immediate financing needs amounting to Fijian 75.9 million dollars and 3-year financing needs amounting to Fijian 162 million dollars.
Sayed-Khaiyum adds one of the key priorities of the Plan is the rehabilitation and resilient reconstruction of 59 schools.
The Australian Government is supporting this priority area to fund the rehabilitation and reconstruction of 9 schools in the Northern Division - Lekutu Secondary School, Lekutu District School, Nukubulu Primary School, Maramarua District School, Dreketi District School, Bua District School, Dama District School, Wailevu West District School and Ratu Luke Memorial School.
The Implementation will be managed by the Australian Government through a Project Support Facility run by an independent third party and the Fijian Government through the Ministry of Economy’s Construction Implementation Unit will be responsible for cross checking progress and releasing funds for payment to contractors.
Sayed-Khaiyum says to ensure the successful operationalisation of this arrangement, they will set up a steering committee which will include officials from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Economy and the Australian High Commission.
Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes highlighted the importance of the Vuvale partnership between the two countries.
He says reflecting on the importance of education and their long-standing partnership with Fiji in this sector, Australia is committing AUD 12.5 million towards the rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged schools and associated infrastructure from TC Yasa.
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