Positive review leads to more funds from EU
-mangrove cultivation expected next year
Stabroek News
May 19, 2007

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Following a favourable end-of-term review of Guyana's performance during 2002-2007, the financial envelope from the 9th European Deve-lopment Fund (EDF) has been enhanced by an additional 12M Euros, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported on Thursday.

Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh and Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Guyana, Ambassador Geert Heikens inked the amendment to the National Indicative Program-me in the Boardroom of the Ministry of Finance, Main Street, Georgetown. Stabroek News was not invited by the ministry to this signing.

The Finance Minister in his remarks, according to GINA, publicly welcomed the new Ambassador to Guyana. He said that granting of the additional funds is ample testimony to the European Com-mission's continued support to Guyana's poverty reduction programmes and also in recognition of the country's record of implementation of such programmes.

"This additional grant represents testimony to the EU's recognition of Guyana's track record in maintaining a stable macro-economic environment and in achieving programme and project objectives, and brings the total grant under the 9th EDF to 60M Euros," the Minister said.

GINA said that under the sea defence component of the original allocation, it is anticipated that work will continue on construction and replacement of sea defence structures along approximately five kilometres at vulnerable locations on the East and West Coast of Demerara and the Corentyne Coast. In addition, under this programme, Government will commence its shore zone management scheme, which envisages the cultivation of mangrove plantations in appropriate locations to be utilised as natural sea defence barriers. The release said that this work is expected to commence in 2008, and will augment additional works being done under other programmes on sea defence.

Minister Singh recognised the efforts of the Ministry's staff and expressed gratitude to the local delegation of the EC. The funds will be added to the macroeconomic budget support programme which contributes to the implementation of the poverty reduction strategy in the social sectors.

The Minister noted, "Under the micro-projects component of the original programme, which has commenced implementation already, a number of high impact community projects will be financed with grants to help vulnerable communities in achieving income generation, improving social infrastructure, and improving health and well-being. So far, 75 such have been approved, and 36 have been implemented."

Dr Singh said that so far under the EU Budgetary Support programme, these achievements have been recognised and Guyana's performance has been described as outstanding, "with the effect that we have qualified for further additional support, and as indicated, the 12M Euros addendum that we are signing here today will see these funds being channelled to general budget support to finance the implementation of our poverty reduction strategy."

The Ambassador in his statement said that he was pleased to note the progress made in the immunisation coverage of children, in the prevention of mother-to- child transmission of the HIV virus, and the treatment of tuberculosis and malaria.

He pointed out that based on the good experience with the Poverty Reduction Budget Support Programme, and provided that the general requirements for the funding is maintained, the EC intends to continue and enhance the use of this type of instrument in the forthcoming 10th EDF Programme and also in the delivery of assistance to the sugar adaptation strategy.

Heikens thanked the Government of Guyana for the open and good cooperation in the past and expressed his full trust in the continued, mutually rewarding partnership in the future in the spirit of the Cotonou Agreement.

He noted that though some delays have been recorded in the infrastructure programmes, in general the programme is running smoothly and Guyana has exhibited good absorption capacity of the assistance provided through the EDF. He further commended the Government on its implementation of policies which have maintained stability in health, education and housing.

One of the requirements for Guyana to qualify for assistance was the provision of a sound and stable macroeconomic environment and a proper financial system.

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its Article IV Consultation with Guyana in which the EC participated recently commended the country on its implementation of sound macroeconomic policies.