29 Dec 2006

EU approves first major grant for Marshall Islands

5:24 am on 29 December 2006

After nearly six years of negotiations, the European Union has approved its first major funding project for the Marshall Islands since the central Pacific nation joined the EU's Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group in 2000.

While EU agencies have provided technical assistance in the form of small grants and expert advice, promised large scale funding had yet to be approved.

The Ministry of Finance budget director, Bruce Bilimon, notified local non-governmental organisation officials, that the grant had been approved in Brussels by EU officials.

The decision means that about 625-thousand US dollars will go towards capacity development and training programs for local NGOs.

It is to be managed by the Marshall Islands Council of NGOs through an agreement with the Ministry of Finance and the EU.

Marie Maddison, president of the organization, says she is delighted that the project has now gained approval from the EU.

The grant for the NGOs is one of three major pending Marshall Islands projects with the EU.

The other two are planned to provide solar equipment for the outer islands.