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Australian-funded Vanuatu roads project rated poor with millions over budget

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An Australian government-funded project to build roads in Vanuatu has been “rated poorly against a number of criteria” by an official audit.

The assessment, undertaken by the Australian National Audit Office in June 2015, found that the aid project had not followed “standard process” and planning had “not been efficient.,” China’s news agency Xinhua reports.

The US$24.9 million Port Villa Urban Development Project (PVUDP) was announced by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) government in 2013.

Funds were committed to resurface 21 km of roads in the Vanuatu capital as well as build 33 km of roadside drainage.

However, it was revealed in late January that the project is long overdue, of poor quality and millions of dollars over budget.

So severe has been the extent of the delays that only 13 km of road and 12.5 km of drainage will be completed.

“While the design process is reasonably comprehensive and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) adhered to the required process for developing designs, there are limitations to the process, particularly in relation to monitoring and evaluation frameworks and risk management plans,” the report said.

“The planning for one initiative in particular, PVUDP, has not been efficient. To minimize the risk that the project will not be able to achieve its aims within the approved timeframe, DFAT should work with the contracted investment manager and the GoV to finalise and implement the design as soon as practicable.”

The report also identified the Vanuatu Education Roadmap (VERM) as being “overly ambitious.”

“Consequently, the results of VERM were not commensurate with expectations and the level of investment, that is, the program was not considered by DFAT to be value-for-money.”

In a response to the audit on Wednesday, DFAT said it was “already aware” of issues with the program “and was taking steps to address them.”

“DFAT continues to work closely with the Asian Development Bank to ensure delivery of the projects, including regular monitoring of the PVUDP due to the complexity of the project,” a spokesperson told News Corp Australia.

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