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PNG Planning Minister Maru clarifies European Union Grant Financing Project

PORT MORESBY, FRIDAY 21st JUNE 2019 --- Minister for National Planning and National Authorising Officer, Richard Maru, says he will sign the European Union Grant for small holder farmers next week, well before the June 30 deadline.

The PNG Government had delayed the signing of the 11TH EDF GRANT of €85.0 Million (or PGK 340.0 Million) agreement targeting value chain activities and small holder cocoa and vanilla farmers because it sought to ensure relevant changes in the scoping of the project which we are now happy to advise that the EU Headquarters in Brussels has agreed to.

“I am happy that the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, has concurred with our request for the changes,” Minister Maru said.

These two key changes are the inclusion of the four Momase Provinces, where we are addressing equitable distribution of resources to a region of strength, reaching out to more provinces and communities and also to give more focus and resources to commodity access roads.

Minister Maru explained that the Government’s policy is clear; that in any donor grants, it would like to see 50 per cent of the funds go towards infrastructure. Under this project, additional support under infrastructure will go towards replacement of wood fermantaries and clean driers using renewable energy and the establishment of seed nurseries.

“I have reiterated to the EU the need to strengthen the institutional capacity of Government’s established entities like Cocoa Board, the Spice Board and Department of Agriculture and Livestock as critical implementing agencies to lead, implement and sustain the efforts of our development partners,” Maru said.

However, the EU has recommended the Food and Agriculture Organization, which we now accept as the preferred implementing partner by EU Financial Regulation as a pillar assessed entity. We have concerns through experiences with the EU in carrying through implementation through these arrangements will, to some degree, undermine the important roles these agencies play and it is our urge to the EU to ensure that sustainability is sought and maximum value is gained through this project.

“It is really sad that the Governor of East Sepik has been misleading the people of East Sepik and the country saying we are going to lose that money. We are very mindful of the deadline but we have a duty to ensure firstly that the agreement is aligned to our policies and our national sovereignty is not undermined by all these negotiations that we do. We must have a scope that will deliver the best value for our country because you don’t get an intervention like that every day from donors, it’s a significant contribution,” Minister Maru said.

He added that the Government was also pushing for this project to be spread across four provinces rather than one so it reaches more than 1 million cocoa and vanilla farmers instead of the initial plan of 200,000. It is also more equitable.

“Experience in the past when donors have concentrated in only one province, has not materialized in significant volumes.”

We’ve had clarifications from Brussels, and now that we have it, we are able to sign.
The Financing Agreement between the EU and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea for the program “Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade in Papua New Guinea (STREIT PNG)” will be signed on Thursday June 27, 2019.

Immediately after the Financing Agreement signing as directed by Mimica, the DNPM together with the EU and FAO will lead the detailed scooping and design to determine the individual actions and activities.

“Again, as the NAO, I wish to thank Mr Mimica for his high level support,” Minister Maru said.

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