Grenada’s “Golden” Opportunity
By Lincoln Depradine
Grenada’s Works and Physical Development Minister, Joseph Gilbert, is excited about a Chinese offer of monetary assistance for regional infrastructural development.
“Grenada and other Caribbean countries now have a golden opportunity to undertake much-needed investment in developing their physical infrastructure,’’ said Gilbert, who is also the Minister of Public Utilities.
He made the comment on his return from Trinidad where he was part of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas’ joint government/private sector delegation that attended the Third China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Forum on September 12 and 13.
Gilbert attended the second day of the forum at the invitation of his Trinidad counterpart, Jack Warner, Minister of Works and Infrastructure.
A Structural Engineer, Gilbert was specially invited to attend a seminar on “Cooperation in Finance and Infrastructure.’’
China intends to pump more than $1 billion into the region over the next five years. The package includes a “Special Purpose Fund’’ for infrastructure development, and would be accessible to governments as well as private sector enterprises at competitive interest rates.
As a condition of the loan arrangement, the borrower would be required to contribute 30 percent of the cost of the project to be funded, Gilbert explained.
“It is also a requirement that the project be viable so as to satisfy the loan repayment plan,’’ he said. “I, therefore, want to encourage our private sector, in particular, to grasp the opportunity provided under this initiative by the Chinese, to undertake as many major infrastructure development works in Grenada as practicable; either on their own as private enterprise, or, in partnership with government.’’