By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – President Donald Ramotar has expressed great appreciation to the European Development Fund (EDF) for its assistance in supporting Guyana’s sea defense and conservation of coastland programs, particularly the Mangrove Restoration Project.
President Ramotar also identified other sensitive areas of national economic programs in which the EDF have responded with bilateral assistance including: Energy, Forestry and the development of Amerindian Communities.
The Guyanese Head of State was at the time addressing Representatives of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States (CARIFORUM) and the European Development Fund at the opening of the 11th EDF programming seminar. The European Development Fund (EDF) is the single largest donor of grants to the Region.
The President further lauded the EDF’s support for sugar here, while highlighting the significance of sugar. It is clear that sugar remains among Guyana’s national priorities for the utilization of national grants from the EDF with the President listing poverty and crime as regional priorities.
The Guyanese Leader recommended that a new approach of multi-country programming in agriculture be developed which will in effect reduce the region’s food import bill. He said notwithstanding issues on which the two bodies differ, the relationship remains mutually beneficially and challenged the seminar to use the opportunity to develop other innovative ways to build partnership.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community (Caricom’s) Secretary General Irwin Larocque who identified with the long relationship that the EU and the Region shares, recommended that the two day seminar focus on capacity building, “without human capacity development we cannot achieve sustainable development”.
He has identified as the region’s priorities for the 11th EDF: Regional Integration, Crime and Security, Climate Change and Infrastructural and Economic Development, with emphasis on crime and security and regional integration.
Prior to today’s opening ceremony, representatives of all Cariforum Members States, Regional Organizations and Civil Society met at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, where consultations were held on the Region’s priorities to utilize the grant that will be given to the region by the EDF. The stakeholders used a concept paper which was drafted by the council when it met in November 2012 and refined same.
The Body was challenged today by chairman of Caricom Council of Minister and Grenada Minister of Economic and Trade Oliver Joseph to never lose focus of the fact that they serve the people. He has called for the people’s interest to be central to all discussions.
Meanwhile, European Development Commissioner Andries Piebalgs said, though there are differences between Cariforum and the EDF on how the grants should be utilized, the EDF remains cautious about imposing its ideas on the region.
It is his expectation that both sides will make proposals that will be discussed to generate results to benefit all people. Piebalgs said the European Union budgeted 64 million Euros in 2013 for the Caribbean, noting that the EDF remains committed to ensuring access to justice, clean drinking water, health care and housing. “No one must not be left in extreme poverty” Piebalgs said.
The European Union’s 10th EDF will come to an end this year after running for six years from 2008 to 2013 with a budget of €22.7 billion, representing about 30% of EU spending on development cooperation aid.
A proposal have however been made for the 11th EDF to cover a seven-year period from 2014 to 2020. This one-year extension allows the end of the 11th EDF to coincide with the expiration of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020 and the EU budget period.