EU providing $6.8B in aid
Civil society eligible for funds

Stabroek News
December 10, 2002

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The Guyana government and the European Union yesterday signed the ninth European Development Fund (EDF) grant worth 39M euros ($6.8B) as part of Guyana's Country Support Strategy (CSS) 2002-2007.

The grant aid is the first agreement the ministry signed under the 20-year Cotonou Agreement which came into force this year.

The previous EDF grants were signed under the Lome Convention. For the first time civil society will be eligible for grant aid.

Minister of Finance Saisnarine Kowlessar signed on behalf of the government while Head of the EU Delegation in Guyana Vincent de Visscher signed on behalf of the EU in the boardroom of the ministry, Main Street.

In brief remarks, Kowlessar said that essentially the CSS will provide grant resources to certain key areas such as sea defences, transport, macro-economic assistance in the form of budgetary support for housing and health; and for private sector development.

The allocation for sea defences will total some 19M euros; macro-economic support for the social sector will get 14.9M euros. The transportation sector will get 1M euros and the private sector support for micro-enterprises will amount to some 4M euros.

In recent years, Kowlessar said, the government had drawn down about 114M euros or $20B under the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th EDF. He said the additional resources would depend on the performance of the current programme.

He noted that because of its previous good performance Guyana was granted an additional 9M euros or $1.5B under the 8th EDF for sites and services for low income housing.

He noted that the CSS is derived from the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and other such documents.

Kowlessar announced too that the EU mission was being strengthened and was taking over other responsibilities for the region. In addition to Guyana and Suriname, de Visscher is now responsible for Trinidad and Tobago and the Netherlands Antilles.

De Visscher said the support for the PRSP from the EU was as important as assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

He noted that already the EU was assisting in housing and water in New Amsterdam, Rose Hall and Linden as well as aiding in institutional strengthening of the Guyana Training Agency. Support has been given to the health and education sectors throughout the years.

Apart from working in the social sector, particularly in housing and possibly in health, de Visscher said that civil society has been recognised as a partner in the Cotonou Agreement.

For Guyana this means grant aid to civil society will be a new development and new experience for co-operation.

During the next few months he said there would be discussions on a micro-project approach meant for civil society and non-governmental organisations with policy implementation by the government.

Minister of Housing and Water, Shaik Baksh said the housing sector needed a lot of resources, not only for infrastructure in housing schemes but in regularising squatter settlements. He said the project would complement the current IDB-financed project for housing schemes.

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