Govt, EC ink $840M micro projects pact
Stabroek News
May 8, 2004

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The Government of Guyana (GOG) and the European Commission yesterday signed a five-year agreement to fund the establishment of a micro projects programme for vulnerable groups and non-governmental organisations.

The funding is in the amount of four million euros or $840M and is part of a larger commitment to eradicate poverty.

Signing on behalf of the Guyana Government was Minister of Finance Saisnarine Kowlessar, while Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Guyana, Per Eklund signed on the commission's behalf. The signing took place in the boardroom of the Ministry of Finance.

At the same time the two also signed a smaller agreement in the amount of 600,000 euros for project identification and monitoring.

The project aims to improve the socio-economic conditions of vulnerable groups of the Guyanese population through the development of sustainable self-help schemes.

According to Eklund, consultations were held with several civil society groups prior to the establishment of the project. During the consultations, it was felt that the lack of income-generating opportunities and insufficient or low quality training and education were the two most important areas that the project should address.

The Delegation working in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance has started the process of setting up a Project Management Unit (PMU) to run the project. And for this, a tendering process has begun.

In a press statement, Eklund said the funds would be made available according to geographic location, sector and project size. It said that Georgetown and other towns would be allocated 30-40% of the funds; coastal villages would get 40-45% while the Amerindian villages would get 20-25% of the funding. Employment and income generation will receive 50% of the funding, training, education, communication and good governance will receive 25% and other socio-economic sectors, 25%.

A ceiling of 300,000 euros will apply for all projects with an implementation period of no more than 12 months. Hinterland projects may be approved for up to 50,000 euros or $10M.

According to the delegation head, the micro-project programme is expected to assist in the implementation of approximately 75 micro-projects at the community level and will focus on the agreed target areas, NGOs, community-based and grass roots-based organisations, as well as local government entities.

Kowlessar said the project fell under the ninth European Development Fund (EDF) and said that each project proposal will be looked at by a board and if approved then funding would be released.

The minister said the signing of the agreement brought the project into force from yesterday.

The decision to fund the micro-projects programme in Guyana is in keeping with the Cotonou Agreement, Article One which has the stated objective of poverty reduction and eventual eradication.

Eklund said the signing was a significant step in deepening relations between the European Union and Guyana. He said there is a similar programme in Suriname. He added that he has a lot of hope for the project and he would like to come back in a year to see its successes. (Johann Earle)