Thank you for accepting the invitation to meet me and my delegation today.
Allow me at the outset to express our deepest gratitude to you for your tremendous leadership over the years to navigate this organisation to where we are today. As an organisation it has its own challenges and over the years we have seen how those challenges shape this organisation to better serve the socio-economic needs and political aspirations of the member countries.
Furthermore, I would like to bring to your attention the recent effects of tropical cyclone Hola and the eruption of the Lombenben volcano in the Island of Ambae that are affecting our people. My Government has release a Flash Appeal to request humanitarian and long term rehabilitation. I would appreciate the EU support in your ECHO Humanitarian envelope to support the immediate response to these natural disasters
As I mentioned in my brief remarks this morning, Vanuatu has been benefited though this EU-ACP partnership for the past 38 years. The EDF framework of assistance has been one of the instrumental tools in the development of Vanuatu in the areas of education and training program; infrastructure; governance; technical assistance; trade, Agriculture, and also regional development cooperation,
I also acknowledged the support we solicit through national budget support and I wanted to express my government’s appreciation for this windows of opportunity that help government meeting its national development objectives to provide delivery of services to its citizens.
As you are aware, Excellency, we just signed the first tranche release of 11EDF and the EDF11 program is intended to address gaps in the Vanuatu Value Chain (VAVAC) that prevent the country from fully exploiting its agricultural potential, with a view of boosting trade in domestic and foreign markets. This will achieved through:
· Budget support to support Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Livestock and Bio-security, and the Ministry of Trade, Tourism, Cooperative and Industry.
· Finance Facility. Will be channelled to financial institutions in Vanuatu, to increase bank lending to rural entrepreneurs and to value-chain businesses.
· Technical Support. will provide funding for a team of local and international experts to assist the two Ministries with planning, procurement and logistical matters.
This assistance is crucial at this stage, because, in preparation of LDC graduation in December 2020, my government has taken necessary steps to reform our tax system and economy structure in order to be able to couch the impacts of the LDC graduation.
Your will appreciate that the focus of 11EDF program in Vanuatu is to basically complement the effort of my government to reform our trade regime and also build our industrial capacity to a level where we can trade regionally and international with greater confidence.
While addressing our trade regime and industrial capacity, we would appreciate the continuous support of the European Union to assist Vanuatu in developing its diagnosis laboratory with the view to making sure that Vanuatu products are in compliance with International Standards.
I also would like to acknowledge the greatest effort made by EU-ACP to progress the challenge Vanuatu confronted with the development of Kava as one of our commodities. At this juncture, I wanted to thank you for your leadership and at the same time requested that Kava be given a special assistance and priority under the ACP intra-regional envelope.
Your Excellency, I also wanted to request that further assistance is sought from EU-ACP partnership to support my government policy direction to tax reform and trade reform development initiatives.
In an attempt to remove Vanuatu from the OECD grey list, Your excellency, I am glad to say that my government has made a great progress to address the APG recommendations.
A number of legislative reforms have captured the legislation enacted in response to the particular Recommendations of APG. The Supervisory Working Group and the Law Enforcement Working Group have been undertaking further outreach and other work as evidenced by their implementation plans.
Your Excellency, I would like to seek further support from OECD to support us in our tax reform to ensure effective compliance and implementation.
With regard to the IUU yellow card warning by the EU, the government took action to address the recommendations of the EU by putting in place new policies, legislations, institutional strengthening of the fisheries Department, review the VMSS contract to transfer fleet management role back to the national government in order to strengthen the monitoring , compliance and surveillance functions While the outcome is positive which led to the uplifting of the yellow card warning, the implementation of the policies and legislations were not as smooth as would expected because of the many challenges small island state such as Vanuatu is faced with as recently reported by DG Mare in its recent assessment of the progress. We would appreciate EU’s assistance to support Vanuatu in its effort to address the gaps identified. Excellency, Vanuatu is fully committed to complete these task identified by EU recently.
My government is committed to improve the governance institutions of the 11EDF programs with the best interest to maximise its potential benefits and continue to explore other potential development assistance through this EDF framework until 2020.