Secretary to Prime Minister Dr. Jimmy Rodgers confirmed this when he led a team from the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet appeared before the Public Account Committee (PAC) on Saturday.
Following the announcement of the planned flight, many have raised their concern claiming the government of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) is behind the move to operate the proposed flight.
Dr. Rodgers, however, said the decision to make the flight to China is based on the nationals who have been stranded in China.
“Just want to clarify that it’s not China that actually wants us to fly to China. All the people we brought in so far we could get international connection to them either to Brisbane or to Auckland,” he said.
He said there are some areas where international connections don’t exist right now and the only way for the government to repatriate them is to actually fly the country’s aircraft and China is one of those where Guanjo is the airport.
“Where the repatriation flight will provide an opportunity for us to bring the technical people then we can fit them in but the reason behind the flight is not for those technical people, it is for our citizens and we have 53 of them there,” he added.
He added the biggest challenge in terms of repatriation is on the local students studying in the Philippines.
“We are working with the Philippine government on a few things, first is to see whether our plane can go because they also closed their borders. Secondly, if our plan can go, we are working with the WHO to see if they can assist us to test. We must test those in the Philippines because the risk is very high,” he added.
He said currently, more than 800 plus nationals have been already repatriated home including around 100 foreigners who have been brought in for some specific government-related duties.
By IAN M.KAUKUI