On 26 August 2021, the Government of Japan and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have sealed a new partnership to support the ongoing efforts of COVID-19 response and recovery in the Pacific region through strengthening the systems and capacities of border control agencies in three countries namely Palau, Fiji and Vanuatu. The online ceremony was attended by UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative Mr. Levan Bouadze, Minister of Finance Honorable Kaleb Udui, Jr. from Palau, and officials from Embassy of Japan in Palau, Fiji and Vanuatu.

With 464 million JPY (4.2 million USD) grant from Japan to the three countries, border management agencies in Palau, Fiji and Vanuatu will strengthen its capacities and frameworks for inter-agency and cross-regional cooperation and collaboration in managing international travel and risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the three-year project, the border agencies in Palau will benefit from specialized technical support to improve efficacy and user-friendliness of the processes and procedures for incoming and outgoing passengers at the airports by the latest ICT solutions. Strengthened capacity will contribute to effective recovery and management for revenue assurance, ecological and food safety, migration, transport and tourism industry, which have been experiencing severe impact from the pandemic.

In the ceremony, Minister of Finance of Palau Honorable Udui thanked the Government and the people of Japan and said, “Tourism is Palau’s key industry and main driver of economic development. It has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the end of the crisis is not easy to see because of variants occurring. Through this project, Palau aims to consolidate our border management with strengthened safety measures to take steps towards a steady recovery plan while remaining COVID-19 safe.”

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