EU project monitor

THE European Union has established a project co-ordination unit in Lautoka to monitor the 11 projects it has invested $130 million in to aid the sugarcane industry.

In the lead-up to the end of preferential quota access into the European market from October next year, the EU established the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol to help farmers and industry personnel develop skills and projects to diversify income-generating streams.

The projects were rolled out through the Pacific Community (SPC), International Trade Centre, Sugar Research Institute of Fiji and Australia Pacific Training College.

However, the scheme was criticised by industry stakeholders who claimed the $130m aid program was not visible on the ground.

Speaking at a meeting of implementing agencies in Lautoka on Thursday, which was also attended by Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, EU Ambassador to the Pacific Andrew Jacobs said in a bid to ensure projects were implemented in a timely manner, and they benefited the industry, a monitoring office had been set up.

“It’s one of our priorities to monitor constantly the performance of projects to make sure the objectives are being met and to make sure that the end beneficiaries are really seeing the results,” he said.

“And I am pleased that we have a project co-ordination unit in Lautoka whose job it is to monitor the implementation of projects to make sure they are going according to plan and to call the different implementing agencies to account if things are not going as well as they might.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the meeting provided an opportunity for Government to see how the various agencies were performing and also to offer suggestions on areas where improvements could be made.

“It was very interesting to hear how they are performing and we are also glad that the EU has put in place a co-ordinating manager that’s overseeing these projects,” said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

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