Cablegate: Hmg Sees Opportunity in Burma's Global Fund Application
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHLO #2802/01 3091730
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 041730Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0338
INFO RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON IMMEDIATE 0066
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 0809
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 1200
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002802
FOR S/GAC, EAP/MLS, EUR/WE, AND F
NSC FOR ELIZABETH PHU
HHS FOR WILLIAM STEIGER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2018
TAGS: PREL ETRD PHUM BM UK
SUBJECT: HMG SEES OPPORTUNITY IN BURMA'S GLOBAL FUND APPLICATION REF: STATE 115494 Classified By: Economic Counselor Kathleen Doherty for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) In response to reftel points, FCO Burma Coordinator/Deputy Head of South East Asia and Pacific Group Nicholas Alexander, told Poloff that HMG agreed with the substance of our position on Burma's application to re-engage the Global Fund but advised caution on the tactics we might use to apply it to preserve the progress made in Burma's health sector through the UK's funding of the Three Diseases Fund (3D Fund). Ian Symons, Deputy Head, Director's Office, responsible for Burma policy at DFID, separately told Econoff that Burma must meet Global Fund requirements, as outlined reftel, but UK representatives in Burma are encouraging Burma to apply to re-engage with the Global Fund. Symons saw Burma's application as an opportunity to engage with the GOB, providing a forum to help expand the access gains made in the Delta, as a result of cyclone relief, to the rest of the country. He urged the USG to "go gently" and not be too blunt with the GOB at this point. Rather, he said, use negotiations with the Global Fund in Geneva to change policy. Alexander noted that the issue of Burma's Global Fund application was being discussed in detail between USG and HMG counterparts in Rangoon and Washington.
2. (C) Symons stressed that the GOB has been talking to the Global Fund and is aware of the requirements it needs to meet to receive funding. Symons said the UK would take a "suitably rigorous, but not overly negative," view of Burma's commitment and efforts to address Global Fund conditions and concerns when Burma applies. He added that the UK would not argue on Burma's behalf to the Global Fund.
3. (C) Alexander noted that some progress has been made in Burma, particularly by engaging the Minister of Health, whom he described as "apolitical." HMG was eager not to jeopardize its good working relationship with the minister and hoped that assessments as to whether criteria for the return of the Global Fund had been met could be done "under the radar" so as not to undermine the position of the "pragmatic" health minister, who "was already exposed." Symons also noted a reluctance of country-based representatives to be the ones to say no, and suggested it would be easier to resolve issues at the Global Fund in Geneva.
4. (C) Alexander added that the UNOPS-managed Three Diseases Fund was working largely under the same criteria laid out in reftel points, and the UK did not want to lose that investment. He expressed the hope that if the Global Fund criteria were not met, Burma "should be let down gently" so as to preserve the viability of the Ministry of Health. If the minister was blamed for Burma's failure to reengage the Fund, Alexander said it would be a significant setback for the public health sector. Symons separately described the Health Minister as a "positive, but weak" player, who cannot influence access issues directly, but whose credibility it is important to support. DFID would like to do more on primary health systems, especially in the Delta. Symons argued that health is a sector that can avoid government influence more than education.
5. (SBU) Symons also outlined DFID's program in Burma. The UK provided GBP 45 million in cyclone assistance this year through March 2009, 95 percent of which has been spent. DFID ministers are considering additional cyclone related assistance for the next two years, and are likely to make a decision by the end of the year. Health, education and rural livelihoods (e.g. restoring agricultural production in the Delta region) are DFID's main areas of engagement. DFID is also increasing regular, non-cyclone related, development assistance to Burma. Regarding the latter, DFID is providing GBP 12 million in fiscal year 2008/9, and plans GBP 15 million in 2009/10 and GBP 18 million in 2010/11. The 3D Fund receives the largest share of this amount. Other recipients include UNICEF, Save the Children (education programs), and UNDP (livelihood programs). All DFID assistance is delivered without touching any government mechanisms, according to Symons. LONDON 00002802 002 OF 002 Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX