The European Union has claimed that funds allocated to the Maldives by the EU for climate change adaptation earlier this month have not been delayed, following reports in newspaper Miadhu Daily.
Miadhu reported that the Vice President, Dr Mohamed Waheed, requested the €6.5 million from the EU directly without going through the proper channels of communication, slowing the process.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 6 April between the Maldivian government, the EU and the World Bank. The money will be allocated to fund climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes, which are to be proposed by the government and managed by the World Bank.
Vice President Waheed said the allegations are “part of a smear campaign. It’s come after I spoke out the other day. So it has no basis whatsoever.”
Dr Waheed said the time schedule for the utilisation of the funds, which states that all projects must be submitted by 15 January 2011, shows “we are perfectly on schedule.”
He said he doesn’t “really understand where this is coming from, but I believe it’s a political stunt, played by someone in this country to basically discredit me. You can ask the EU representative in Sri Lanka.”
The Delegation of the EU to Sri Lanka and the Maldives stated today that “the delegation is pleased to confirm that the EU has contributed EUR 6.5 million (approximately US$8.8 million) to the multi-donor Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund.”
They noted arrangements for the programme include a Climate Change Advisory Council, of which Vice President Waheed is the chair, which will “provide strategic direction to the climate change activities under the Trust Fund ensuring that activities are aligned with the government’s Strategic Action Plan and climate change priorities.”
There will also be a Technical Committee composed of technical experts of the government, private sector and leading civil society organisations. This second committee will be responsible for “reviewing and recommending technically well-sound project proposals for financing and monitoring the overall progress of the programme.”
Programme Manager for the trust fund at the EU’s High Commission to the Maldives and Sri Lanka in Colombo, Harshini Halangote, told Minivan News “we have already committed this money” and assured the trust fund has been made available to the government.
“The government is solely responsible for proposing to the World Bank on the government’s priorities,” she said, noting the money is “solely for climate change purposes.”
She said the government’s proposals will then be looked into by the World Bank and the EU for approval.
Halangote added the Vice President would “not request for it personally,” noting there is a governance structure which has been passed and looked at by the government which outlines the proper channels of communication.
“Minister of Finance Ali Hashim, who signed the MoU, is aware they do have the money,” she said.
Halangote added “the project can run as fast as they want it to,” and said there was no truth in the allegations that the funds had been delayed.
Delhi-based Environmental Specialist for the trust fund, Priti Kumar, said “there has been no delay. When the World Bank starts a long-term project like this, you can’t expect a trust fund to be allocated within 21 days [since the signing of the MoU].”
She said the EU and World Bank “want the money to be utilised in a very useful manner” which is not influenced by politics.
She noted the Climate Change Advisory Council “is working quite well” and projects are being developed already.
She added although “everything is on track,” it will take “a few months for everything to be streamlined” as the trust fund involves a large sum of money.
Deputy Minister for Environment, Dr Mohamed Shareef, said the money “is available” and the ministry has “proposed several projects.”
He said the money “had been delayed for a bit, but international bureaucracy also takes its time.”
Dr Shareef said the ministry hopes there will be some projects starting by the end of this year and said he had been told “there will be more funds available” in addition to the original €6.5 million.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Ahmed Assad, said he is “not aware of any [delays]” and has not been “informed of any issues” regarding the trust fund.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Naseem, told Minivan News yesterday that the funds had been “delayed for too long,” but today said he no longer wished to give details on the matter.