By Pita Ligaiula in Port Moresby, PNG
The European Union's Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica and Fiji's Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama today signed an agreement for a new initiative worth 10 million Euros (FJ$23 million) at the margins of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Leader Summit in Port Moresby.
The financial assistance package will assist Fiji's recovery and rehabilitation efforts in the agriculture sector following Tropical Cyclone Winston.
“The EU is proud to offer its assistance to Fiji during these trying times for the country. The FJ$23 million will not only help the sugar and agriculture sectors to recover quickly, but will also give hope and optimism to hundreds and thousands of Fijian citizens who depend on the sectors for their livelihoods and survival,” said Commissioner Mimica.
“The support will come in the form of direct budget support so the Government is able to use the funds according to the priorities identified in the recovery plan for the sectors. The Government and development partners have produced a comprehensive Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and we now look forward to a speedy implementation of the recovery plan”.
PM Bainimarama in response thanked the European Union and asked Commissioner Mimica to convey the gratitude of every Fijian to the Commission, member governments and the people of Europe.
“This is an important day for Fiji and for our relationship with the European Union – the signing of an agreement that provides Fiji with 10 million Euros to support our recovery effort in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston.
“This allocation is on top of the 28 million Euros (FJ$65.5 million)already pledged by the EU to Fiji under the National Indicative Programme of assistance for sugar and agriculture and improving access to justice. And also on top of the 1 million Euros (FJ$2.3 million) donated in the immediate aftermath of Winston.
“We are very gratified by the confidence the European Union is showing in our budgetary process and the management of our public finances. You are recognising that the best way to deliver assistance is through a partnership with the Government. And your example is one that we hope our other development partners will emulate,” Bainimarama said.
“This funding is destined to improve the lives of many thousands of Fijians, and especially those in our agricultural sector, including sugar, who have been especially hard hit by Cyclone Winston.
Bainimarama said the total damage bill to the nation of more than FJD$3 billion (FJ$1.405 million). Around FJ$540 million (US$252.5 million) of that is in the agricultural sector, according to Fiji’s recent Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA).
Commissioner Mimica added that the EU has been responding to the needs of TC Winston since February 20 through the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) Programme, distribution of vegetables, fruits, crops and tree seedlings, support to the preparation of the PDNA, reorientation of projects to help with Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Rural Electrification infrastructure through the roll-out of a new 'Construction and Carpentry' training course that will engage selected mill workers and community members.
Bainimarama praised the EU for being “ a reassuring presence by our side” since Winston struck Fiji.... PACNEWS