Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and European Ambassador to Guyana, Geert Heikens, yesterday inked the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) for Guyana which clears the way for a grant to the tune of €55.4M for several projects, including the formulation of a national land use master plan among others.
Speaking at the simple signing ceremony at the Finance Ministry’s Boardroom, Ambassador Heikens said that the money which was a grant, and not a loan of any kind, was to provide macro economic/budget support for Guyana and is aimed at having the country achieve not only the Millennium Development Goals, but also the achievements outlined in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme.
He said that the money will be doled out in yearly tranches under negotiated conditionalities.
Some €30M will be going directly to Budget Support while another €14.8M will go to the upgrading and maintenance of the sea defences and coastal management.
Other projects to be funded under the 10th EDF are Governance, National Authorising Officer’s Office and technical Support for the Office to the tune of €1M each.
The development of the land-use master and comprehensive land system will be allocated €3M.
According to a statement issued by the Ambassador, it is noticeable that Guyana’s land resource is currently considerably underutilized, and the strategic use and protection of the resource is central to the country’s development prospects, and national plans will play a crucial role here.
According to Heikens, it is necessary to have in place a comprehensive plan that will allow for the success of wider governmental policies depending to a large extent on coordinated diversification throughout the ten administrative regions, supported by the necessary planned infrastructure.
“The EC and the government are convinced that developing a land use master plan will promote sustainable and equitable land management, ultimately leading to poverty reduction…The master plan will address, clearly, the environmental sustainability of regional development, as well as the need to review and further elaborate planning legislation.”
Commenting on the supporting strategy for Guyana, Ambassador Heikens said, “There is an excellent level of cooperation with the National Authorising Officer who is the Minister of Finance, together with the other Ministries receiving support from EC programmes.”
He further remarked, “Support for Guyana comes from the Country Support Strategy, but Guyana also benefits from the Caricom Regional Programme, as in the case of the support to the Rice Sector and the Ogle Airport Runway Extension Project.”
Heikens added, “While it is sometimes difficult as with the case of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), I realise that there is a sound partnership and most of all, a committed group of friends with Guyana’s development at heart.”
Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, in expressing his appreciation for the grant from the EU through the European Commission said, “Once again, we recognise the European Commission’s contribution to our ongoing efforts to alleviate and reduce poverty and improve our national livelihood, through the various EDF initiatives that commenced over 30 years now.”
Dr Singh emphasised that developed countries must see the prevailing global financial crisis as an opportunity to recognize the need to continue supporting countries such as Guyana, and urged Heikens to advocate the policy.
In a statement issued by Dr Singh, historical perspective of Guyana’s relationship with the European Commission was outlined.
It was pointed out that the European Commission has been contributing to Guyana’s development agenda since 1975, when the first Lome Convention between the European Commission and ACP States was signed.
Under the Lome programmes, the Commission’s assistance was primarily project support. Some of the major projects supported by the Commission during the period included the New Amsterdam, Rose Hall, and Pouderoyen water supply projects, the Guyana Training Agency project, and sea defence support, among others.
Recently, the Commission was in a position to reallocate EDF resources, based on the individual performance of ACP States, to countries whose performance was exemplary.
Guyana benefited substantially under the ninth EDF and received an incentive tranche of €12.1M for excellent performance under the initial budget support programme that ended in 2006.
Separate from the EDF programme under the new Cotonou Agreement, Guyana has also been allocated the sum of €87.6M under the EC’s new sugar protocol arrangements for ACP States, for the period 2007 to 2010, to cushion the effects of the 36 per cent reduction of the price paid for sugar from ACP States by the EU.
Under the ninth EDF Guyana received some €68.18M, and Ambassador Heikens explained that the reduction of money in the new EDF was not in any way tied in to the global financial crisis, rather some money that was not used in the eighth EDF was rolled over to its successor.
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