ZIMBABWE – Government and the European Union have reached an agreement on the use of more than $100 million from the bloc under the National Indicative Programme (NIP) sponsored by the 11th European Development Fund (2014-2020).
There are expectations that Government will get more funding under the same facility.
Government and the EU, in February last year, signed a co-operation agreement for the release of €234 million ($270 million) development assistance, marking the first time since 2002 that the European bloc is channeling funds through Treasury.
The funding targets to support health, agriculture and governance and institution building which are sectors that are key in the implementation of Zim-Asset.
In an interview after paying a courtesy call on Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa Offices in Harare last week, head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Philippe Van Damme said they had reached an agreement on how to use 60 percent of the fund.
He said by the end of this year, Government and the EU are expected to have reached consensus on the implementation of at least 85 percent of the funding.
“That means we have come to a common agreement with the Government and ourselves on how we will implement about 60 percent of the EDF (European Development Fund),” he said.
“So, we have found implementing agencies for example, Unicef, World Bank, FAO and so forth to implement these projects we agreed on. This year we will continue with the implementation of the rest of the EDF.
“By the end of this year, we will roughly have committed about 85 percent of the EDF. On that basis, we will be in a good position in 2017 possibly to negotiate with our headquarters when we do our mid-term review for possible additional funding.”
In e-mailed response to follow up questions on the same, Ambassador Van Damme said the fund was aimed at supporting Zimbabwe meet its reform agenda.
He said of the 60 percent of the implementation matrix that was agreed between Government and the EU, about 40 percent of that had already been contracted while 20 percent of the fund has been disbursed.
Ambassador Van Damme said the EU bloc was also interested in normalising relations with Zimbabwe adding that they were also interested in investing in Zimbabwe.
“The EU remains committed to further re-engagement with Zimbabwe until full normalisation of the relations and holds a regular dialogue with the authorities on domestic, regional or international policy issues of mutual interest.
“Over the last year in particular, we have seen a number of business delegations from various EU member states visit Zimbabwe, and in a limited number of cases this has already resulted in some solid investments, but more could probably be done if the investment climate can improve.
“This is important because attracting foreign direct investment from all over the world is a crucial factor for ensuring a prosperous future for Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is part of a very competitive, globalised business community and needs to address its competitiveness challenges,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa or permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr Willard Manungo were fruitless.