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Europe tells Caribbean to improve project implementation

President Donald Ramotar and Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs in talks at the end of the 11th European Development Fund Programme Seminar (GINA photo)

European Union (EU) Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs has urged the Caribbean to do better on the implementation of projects being funded by the European Union.

His call came on Thursday at the opening of an EU – Caribbean Forum of African Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) seminar to discuss the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). This round of funding will see some one billion euros in grants coming towards the Caribbean for the period 2014 – 2020.

According to Piebalgs, the rate of disbursement under the almost 900-million-euro 10th EDF had slowed with 332 million euros being paid out in 2011, 280 million euros in 2012 and only 64 million euros in 2013.

“We must reverse the trend of slow implementation, make real progress and together ensure that we can complete our work under 10th EDF.” According to the Commissioner, any delay in disbursement is a loss of money.

Piebalgs also called for a more strategic approach in the way the funds were utilised with more actors being involved in project implementation.

“Who can do it the best in the shortest time possible so for me it is quite crucial that the results are achieved but it is expected in good quality and as fast as possible.”

The EU official also suggested that grant funding be utilised to pilot investments. “We focus very much on human capacity building but I believe that we forgot that grants have extreme value providing a measure for growth and sustainability. In today’s world you can get a loan but the problem is you need to repay it but very seldom grants. Grants are extremely valuable in my opinion for investment.”

Piebalgs said that that was why they had increased the investment facility from 40 million euros to 140 million euros.

Guyana has identified climate change mitigation and infrastructure as two key on which it will be talking to the EU.

A Joint Agreement between the EU and CARIFORUM outlines five broad areas to be funded by the EDFs. They are crime and security; regional integration and cooperation; climate change; institutional and economic development of Haiti; and a general collaboration between the two blocs at the wider international forum.