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Sweden to phase out development aid to RP

June 1, 2008 4:47pm
MANILA, Philippines - Sweden will phase out its bilateral aid projects in the Philippines in the next two to four years in line with its new policy to shift its development assistance to poorer countries in the South East Asian region and Africa.

“As part of a review of Swedish development cooperation policy the number of countries that Sweden will have bilateral development cooperation with will be reduced from around 100 to 30. The reason behind this decision is to increase aid effectiveness and to increase focus on the poorest countries,” said Fredrik Agerhem, Swedish Embassy’s second secretary and Trade and investment attaché.

“One of countries that will be affected by this decision is the Philippines,” he added.

Assistance, however, will continue in Cambodia and Laos, the embassy official noted.

“Considering that the Philippines is a middle income country with a relatively advanced level of development and a large presence of other donors, the Swedish government has decided to phase out Sweden’s bilateral development cooperation with the Philippines over the next 2-4 years. As a consequence of the decision, no new projects will be started,” Agerhem said.

He however assured that Swedish humanitarian support and development cooperation in the Philippines through multilateral organizations and through civil society organizations will continue.

Swedish bilateral development cooperation with the Philippines has amounted to around P170 million annually.

By the end of 2008, Agerhem said Sweden will also no longer make further contributions to the World Bank-administered Mindanao Trust Fund for reconstruction and rehabilitation of strife-torn areas in the region once a peace deal between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government is signed.

Sweden has made a contribution of P210-million or SKE 30 million (Swedish Kronors) to the MTF. Aside from Sweden, other bilateral donors to the trust fund include the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Sweden had closed its embassy in the Philippines last May 31. Applications for visas will now be handled by another Schengen Embassy in Manila, while its embassy in Bangkok will take over the applications for residence and work permits from the Philippines. - GMANews.TV