HA NOI (VNS)— The Irish Government has committed up to US$18.3 million for infrastructure development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas during 2013-15, as part of Programme 135.
The funding was pledged in an agreement signed yesterday between Minister, Chairman of the Committee for Ethnic Minorities of Viet Nam Giang Seo Phu and Irish Ambassador Damien Cole.
Under the agreement, the funds will be used for the construction of small scale infrastructure projects in the poorest communes in eight provinces, including Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Bac Kan, Dien Bien, Thanh Hoa, Quang Ngai, Kon Tum and Tra Vinh.
The Irish and Vietnamese governments will evaluate the effectiveness of the grants on an annual basis. If any of the participating provinces fail to fulfill their commitments, the funding will then be allocated to other provinces.
Speaking at the ceremony, deputy chairman of the committee, Son Phuoc Hoan, said Viet Nam has received strong financial and technical assistance from international organisations and friends, including Ireland, which had helped the country successfully reach its development and rebuilding targets.
He expressed special thanks to the Irish Government for its contributions to Viet Nam's achievements in eliminating hunger and reducing poverty, saying that the assistance had helped maintain and consolidate the co-operation and friendship between the two countries.
Programme 135 seeks to improve the lives of people living in communes, who face extreme hardship in ethnic minority and mountainous areas, in order to narrow the gap in living standards among Viet Nam's regions and ethnic groups.
From 2006 to 2010, the programme received VND14 trillion ($666 million), more than half of which came from international donors, deputy chairman Hoan said, adding that it was considered by donors to be a transparent and efficient programme.
He stressed that localities receiving funds have promised to use the Irish Government's resources for the improvements agreed upon.
Irish Ambassador Damien Cole said sustainable poverty reduction in ethnic minority areas was one of the top priorities of the Irish Government.
Therefore, it committed to continue supporting the Vietnamese Government's efforts to improve the living standards of millions of poor people in the upcoming years, he said. — VNS