AUSSIE OFFICIALS TOUT VANUATU SCHOOL PROJECT

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Port Vila Presse, Jan. 11) – A visiting delegation of Australian lawmakers and other officials, headed by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer say the country’s aid spending in Vanuatu is showing positive results.

The group, including members of the Australian parliament, Minister for Education Joe Natuman and Downer toured a newly-opened administrative center at the Vanuatu Institute of Technology (VIT).

Australia Member of Parliament Kay Hull said she was delighted to be at VIT to see first hand the benefits that have come through Australia’s aid program.

"I am particularly pleased to be here because I understand that the construction of this Administration Center (worth $650,000 or 50 million vatu) marks another milestone in the way the Australian Government delivers its aid program in Vanuatu", she said.Responding to criticism that the Australian aid program is nothing more than "boomerang aid", Mrs Hull noted that the construction of the VIT Administration Center tender process and building works were managed in Vanuatu.

"The management of the site and the construction of this Administration Centre have been carried out by local firms using local labor, expertise and materials, with the VIT Council overseeing the entire process. VIT students, and ex VIT students (now employed in private companies) have been able to work together to produce this impressive new Centre." she said.

Mrs Hull congratulated the Minister for Education, the VIT Chairman, the VIT Principal, and everyone else who has been involved in its development and said the success of the project would open the door to more opportunities for local businesses to be directly involved in delivery of Australia’s aid program.

Since January 2004, Australia has untied its technical assistance for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) which includes Vanuatu.

As a result, local and international companies and advisers are eligible to manage and implement Australian aid activities, subject to price and technical considerations.

This means that Australia’s aid can draw on a much wider pool of expertise to assist with Vanuatu’s development, including from within Vanuatu itself.

Since this decision, the AusAID office in Port Vila has acted quickly to make sure that as many local companies and local consultants as possible are getting access to contracts to help deliver the Australian aid program.

In addition to the VIT Admin Centre, which has pumped 50 million vatu directly into the local economy, work to build the VIT library (approx. 60 million vatu) has also been completely managed and implemented with the use of local companies.

In October, a 16 million vatu contract was awarded to locally owned and managed firm Paradise Travel Centre to manage the travel arrangements of more than 90 Australian funded scholarship students traveling to overseas institutions per year.

Recognizing the value of using local experience, knowledge and expertise, a number of ni-Vanuatu consultants have also been selected on merit for involvement in project delivery and reviews during 2004, all of which have been advertised and contracted locally.

The Secondary School Extension Project, Phase II has been specifically designed to support small-scale building contractors, local enterprise and community groups as much as possible.

With the assistance of the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce, tenders have already been advertised for local companies to work with communities to build school extensions in Pentecost and Tanna.

Further work on Epi, Aore and Malekula will be advertised as the Project progresses.

In total, approximately Vt 640 million is being spent to improve infrastructure, provide equipment and learning materials to five senior secondary schools in the outer islands – about 70% (Vt 450 million) of total project costs will be on construction and activities sourced from local firms.

Building materials for these projects will be sourced locally – benefiting not only the islands where construction is taking place, but also providing income for building supply companies in Port Vila and Santo.

January 12, 2005

Port Vila Presse: http://www.news.vu/en/

 

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