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Project push

caricomhqBusinesses in Barbados can now benefit from grants of between $388,000 and $474,000 to better position them to export to the European market, under the European Economic Partnership Agreement with CARICOM/CARIFORUM States.

Two facilities were launched this afternoon at the Accra Beach Resort, Christ Church, which would provide the money from a near $7 million CSME Standby Facility for Capacity Building and a similar EPA one worth $6.8 million.

The EPA and CSME facilities will be financed by the European Union and administered by the Caribbean Development Bank. President of the CDB, Warren Smith, told the gathering that with financing by the European Investment Fund, the bank would use a line of credit to fund eligible climate action projects, such as energy efficiency initiatives, renewable energy programmes, transport ventures that contribute to reducing road and air traffic emissions, land use and low-carbon technologies’ research.

Smith said development, innovation and climate adaptation projects also stand to benefit.

“Implementation of the EPA, which was signed in 2008, has been slow and uneven. The disappointment with the slow progress can be traced, in large part, to the limited human, financial and technical capacities in many CARIFORUM countries to implement commitments under the agreement,” the CDB head asserted.

He observed that similar constraints had stymied the advancement of the CSME.

“By focusing directly on building capacity at the national level, the two new product offerings can position the countries to take advantage of the opportunities for export development and expansion available through the EPA,” added Smith.

“The EPA and CSME standby facilities therefore represent a major milestone in our ongoing effort to secure the beneficial integration of CARICOM member states into the global economy.”

The CDB’s Programme Coordinator, Valarie Pilgrim, explained that the CSME facility would function for three years from December 11, 2012 to December 10, 2015.

Pilgrim revealed that the bank would be responsible for assisting businesses to improve the quality of their project proposals to ensure they were adequately results-focused, supervising and reporting on the implementation of approved grants and establishing grant agreements between the CDB and grant recipients for projects approved.

She said the money would be used to fund a maximum of 90 per cent of the cost of implementing each project approved for financing under the CSME Standby Facility.

“CARICOM member states, with the exception of Haiti will be required to contribute at least 90 per cent of the cost of implementation,” she added.

Goods and services approved for funding under the facility may be procured from member countries of CDB, EU and CARICOM, Pilgrim explained. (EJ)

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