Minister for National Planning and National Authorising Officer (NAO), Hon Richard Maru,today counter-signed the Financing Agreement of the EU 11th EDF Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade Project between the European Union and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (STREIT PNG).
The signing concludes the higher level technical and financial commitment of the project, using his powers as the National Authorising Officer of PNG under Article 35 of Annex 4 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. The NAO is the direct counterpart of the European Commission delegation and responsible within ACP governments for the cooperation with the European Commission.
Minister Maru was happy to inform the country of finally reaching this official concluding stage that has taken about two years since the National Government through the DNPM started its joint process of programming and identification since March 2016.
“It has not been an easy process and I thank all the EU Delegation in PNG, and all Government agencies and stakeholders including Development Partners and the private sector who collaborated in the consultations towards the project formulation process. This conclusive outcome in the countersigning is a product of that thought process and participation. This agreement now authorizes PNG to proceed to startup implementation, thereby allowing for the draw down of the €85.0 Million (or PGK 340.0 Million) to begin on the STREIT PNG project,” Minister Maru said.
"As a country, this authorization now tallies up to a national commitment of €115.3 Million out of €154.0 Million earmarked for PNG under the 11th EDF. This translates to 75% commitment of the 11th EDF National Indicative Programme (NIP) is now secured and under implementation. The rest will be committed before the end of 2020."
The start-up process would require more detailed scoping, design, development of measures and targets etc… which are all necessary for proper project management.
These will form the basis of a Contribution Agreement to be developed and signed between the EU and FAO – a modality of direct management delivery by the EU. The Government has expressed strongly to provide specific support in this through national experts and consultants to support the detailed scoping and design process. ‘This process will take from 6 to 12 months so essentially we are talking about June 2020 when real implementation may begin.’ Minister Maru said.
Programme Director of the NAO Support Unit within the DNPM, Roger Kara, added that after this signing, a Program Steering Committee (PSC) will be set up to oversee and validate the overall direction and policy for the implementation of the STREIT PNG Program.
The NAO and the EU Delegation will jointly co-chair the PSC, which will comprise of the core Committee of the EU Delegation, DNPM, Department of Agriculture and Livestock,PNG Cocoa Board, PNG Spice Board, the Department of Works and Implementation and the provincial Governments. Other agencies of Government will be co-opted to be part of the PSC as necessary.
Minister Maru emphasized the Government’s keen interest to see this project off the ground with an intent of reaching more than 1 million cocoa and vanilla farmers across the four Momase Provinces.
In conclusion,Minister Maru thanked all stakeholders again and expressed his gratitude to the EU Commissioner for International Development Cooperation, Hon. Neven Mimica for the two bilateral meetings on this project in Apia (Samoa) and Ndjamena(Chad Republic) who provided clear authorisation and understanding to bring this process to this concluding stage.