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9 Feb 2006 : Column 1385W—continued

EU Trust Fund (Africa)

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on progress towards the establishment of an EU trust fund for Africa. [49595]

Hilary Benn: We expect the European Investment Bank and the European Commission to shortly sign a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a Trust Fund to finance infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Trust Fund is in support of the EU-Africa Infrastructure Partnership, which is part of the wider EU Africa Strategy, approved in December 2005. It will support water, energy, transport and telecommunications infrastructure, with a focus on cross border projects.

The Commission and the European Investment Bank will begin to discuss member state participation in the Trust Fund with member states.

Increased investment in infrastructure is needed to boost growth in Africa and help meet the Millennium Development Goals. The UK is therefore supportive of the EU-Africa Infrastructure Partnership, which is complementary to the new Infrastructure Consortium for Africa.
 
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Food Shortages

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made on the scale of food shortages in Chechnya and Ingushetia; and if he will make a statement. [49669]

Mr. Thomas: DFID relies on the UN organisations working in Chechnya and Ingushetia to provide information on the humanitarian situation in both republics. We are informed by the World Food Programme (WFP) that thousands of vulnerable people are currently suffering from the extreme weather experienced in Russia and are in urgent need of food. WFP have therefore appealed for funds to resume food rations to the region.

In response to the WFP appeal, DFID will provide £200,000 through the WFP to support continued food distribution in the short-term and will maintain close contacts with the UN and the WFP to re-assess the situation over the coming months. At the same time, DFID will continue to push for better targeting of food for particularly vulnerable groups and continue efforts to move to more sustainable and recovery focused assistance to reduce dependency on food distributions.

Freedom of Information Act

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what total sum has been received by his Department for the provision of information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in its first year of operation. [48495]

Mr. Thomas: In 2005, DFID received no payments for requests which fell above the appropriate limit and received no payments for disbursements.

The Freedom of Information Act allows for public authorities to determine when the cost of processing a request will exceed the appropriate limit, which for central Government is set at £600 and for the wider public sector £450. In this instance the public authority may decide to either approach the applicant to help them refine their request and where possible to bring it under the appropriate limit. Alternatively, public authorities may charge the applicant the cost of processing the request. There is, however, no obligation for departments to provide information if the cost of processing the request exceeds the appropriate limit.

Public authorities may also charge for disbursements when handling requests where it is deemed appropriate. Further information on the Freedom of Information (FOI) fees regime can be found on the DCA website at http://www.foi.gov.uk/feesguide.htm.

Global Fund

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the withdrawal of the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria from Myanmar. [48944]

Mr. Thomas: Burma is facing a generalised HIV and AIDS epidemic and has high Malaria and TB infection and mortality rates. On 18 August 2005, the Global Fund terminated its US$98 million grant to Burma, citing the Burmese authorities' tightening of restrictions on UN and international non-governmental
 
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organisations (INGOs) (particularly on travel). Some but not all of these restrictions have subsequently been relaxed.

Although a phase-out plan has been adopted to mitigate the cancellation of the grants, the termination was a significant setback to work to combat the three diseases. DFID has provided technical assistance to the UN resident co-ordinator to help learn from the experience and consider alternative funding arrangements. Working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), DFID has stressed to the authorities, the need to ensure access for the UN and INGO's. DFID and other donors are designing a replacement programme to respond to the three diseases. During design, we are consulting with a wide range of stakeholders and will ensure a focus on transparency, accountability, equity and effective monitoring.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what mechanisms are in place to ensure that money pledged to the global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria is spent where it is intended. [48945]

Mr. Thomas: The Global Fund has a number of fiduciary mechanisms in place to ensure that grant proceeds are used for their intended purpose. The country co-ordinating mechanism, a country-level partnership which includes representatives from both the public and private sectors, is responsible for submitting the initial grant proposal for approval and nominating the principal recipient(s). It also oversees and monitors the progress of the grant during implementation. The global fund and the principal recipient(s) for each grant negotiate a grant agreement which sets out specific, measurable results that will be tracked using a set of key indicators to assess performance against the agree objectives. Principal
 
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recipients are legally responsible for local implementation of the grant, including oversight of sub-recipients of grant funds.

The global fund does not have a country presence outside its offices in Geneva. It relies on independent financial advice from local fund agents which are local auditors. In the initial stage, the local fund agent assesses the financial and administrative capacity of the principal recipient. Over the life of the grant, the local fund agent will verify periodic disbursements based on demonstrated progress towards intended results. This performance-based system of grant-making is key to the glob fund's commitment to results. To ensure transparency and reduce fiduciary risks, the global fund compiles key information including results and financial accountability for each grant into a grant performance report which is posted in the global fund's website: www.theglobalfund.org.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on distributing the US$ 241 allocated by the global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to schemes to fight HIV/AIDS in India. [48948]

Mr. Thomas: The Global Fund is supporting eight grants in India that are currently in their first two years of implementation (Phase 1) and the total approved for this phase is US$ 107.3 million. The progress of disbursements against these grants has been variable. Where disbursements have been slow, this has been due to several factors including institutional issues and procurement delays. The table provides a summary of the position on current disbursements and also takes account of additional disbursements expected in February and March (where these are known):
Approved Proposals
CountryRndDiseaseApproved grant amount (USD)Total lifetime budgets (USD)
India1TB8,655,0338,655,033
2HIV/AIDS26,116,000100,081,000
2TB7,080,00029,110,000
3HIVATB2,667,34614,819,773
4HIV/AIDS25,831,024140,878,119
4Malaria30,158,83369,044,954
4TB6,819,00026,545,000
Total107,327,236389,133,879


Grant Details
CountryRndGrant numberProgram start dateTotal
India1IDA-1 02-G01-T-001 April 20038,655,033
2IDA-202-G02-H-001 May 200426,116,000
2IDA-202- G03-T-001 April 20047,080,000
3IDA-304-G-4-C1 November 20042,667,346
4IDA-405-G0-H1 April 20054,158,465
IDA-405-G06-H1August 200521,672,559
4IDA-405- G07-M1 July 200530,158,833
4IDA-405-G08-T1 April 20056,819,000
Total107,327,236







 
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Disbursements
CountryRndTotal at end January 2006Expected in February /March 2006Percentage disbursed of total grant
India16,088,8401,600,00089
28,301,0005,000,00043.4
23,731,0001,986,00081
3165,42806.2
41,857,846044.7
2,972,0008,500,00052.9
4856,71712,000,00042.6
4397,00005.8
Total24,369,83129,086,000

The India Country Co-ordinating Mechanism responsible for overseeing implementation of the grants meets regularly to review their status and consider appropriate action. The Global Fund is also working with the Country Co-ordinating Mechanism to help speed up the disbursement process. In line with the Global Fund's performance-based funding approach, subsequent funding of these grants in Phase 2 (covering the next three years) will be subject to an assessment of their performance before additional funds totalling US$ 202.7 million can approved.


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