VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN): The European Union (EU) will provide 42.9mil euros to Laos to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education and nutrition.
The EU Ambassador, Ina Marčiulionytė, paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Finance Bounchom Oubonpaseuth in Vientiane recently to personally inform him of the positive outcome of the EU Education and Nutrition Budget Support Programme’s assessment.
The EU Budget Support Strategic Steering Committee has approved the payment of 42.9mil euros (515 billion kip) to the National Treasury Account in the coming weeks, according to the EU delegation in Laos.
Of this amount, 26.4 million euros (318 billion kip) will be made available for the EU Education Budget Support Programme, also known as the “Basic Education Support Programme”, and 16.4 million euros (197 billion kip) for the EU Nutrition Budget Support Programme, also known as the “Support to the Lao PDR National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action”.
“This budget support to education and nutrition areas is exceptional by its nature and by its amount. This support needs to go towards the effort to support the implementation of the Education and Sport Development Strategy 2021-25 as well as the National Nutrition Strategy 2016-25.
"This support is not intended to finance the budget deficit nor financial obligations towards third parties, it is to help the government to cope with the Covid-19 crisis and the needs of students and vulnerable population of this country,” Marčiulionytė said.
Laos will also benefit from public financial management reforms to improve financial reporting, and develop administrative capacity for revenue collection, public procurement and budget execution.
Efforts have been made by the Lao government to improve transparent financial data systems and for regular updates on reforming public finance management.
The EU is one of the most important development partners of Laos, in terms of grant aid for development and humanitarian programmes. Education and nutrition are among the main focal sectors of the EU’s bilateral cooperation with Laos.
Education has achieved very good results to date. Budget allocation and investment in education needs to continue to keep children in schools, to provide access to learning support, to provide alternative platforms of teaching and to help teachers to adjust to a new environment.
It is a priority for the EU to support the Lao government during this challenging time to maintain spending on education and to protect progress made over the past years in improving access to education, the teaching quality, and the management of the education system in Laos.
In the field of nutrition, progress in recent years, including a reduction in the prevalence of stunting among children under five (from 44 per cent to 33 per cent), is at stake as the pandemic has impacted diets, food security and overall service delivery.
The EU budget support programme aims to support basic nutrition in Laos while leaving no one behind and adopting a crosscutting approach, which takes in other focal sectors such as education, health, environmental protection, governance and agriculture. - Vientiane Times/Asia News Network