Government Makes Pitch For Development Financing

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Thursday 3rd May, 2018-Antigua and Barbuda is actively pursuing ways to regain access to development financing available through the European Investment Bank (EIB), one of the arms of the European Union (EU).

The case for Antigua and Barbuda to re-qualify for concessionary loans to finance a variety of development projects was made Thursday during discussions between a government team led by Prime Minister, Hon. Gaston Browne with the EIB’s Investment Officer, Floris Vermeulen.The Antigua and Barbuda team also included Utilities and Energy Minister, Sir Robin Yearwood and Trade and Investment Minister, Hon. Asot Michael.

The EIB official spent the past two days in St John’s meeting with key officials with a number of government agencies to discuss their priority needs once the country qualifies for funding.

Antigua and Barbuda has benefitted from several developments over the years financed through the EIB. However, the country is currently indebted to the tune of 1.9 million EURO. A government statement said the Ministry of Finance has been servicing some of the EIB loans according to their debt schedules, while some loans have not been paid as prescribed.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Browne acknowledged the delinquency and he gave a commitment that the government will take the necessary steps to clear off the outstanding amounts as ‘soon as possible’, a prerequisite for re-admission.

The prime minister was particularly keen on exploring the possibility of accessing financing to help APUA complete its broadband initiative as well as additional resources to improve the water delivery system. He stated that he would be happy if APUA could also access grant financing available through the EIB.

PM Browne also inquired about whether or not there was available funding for private sector initiatives such as hotels as well as financing through the Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank for lending to small and medium size enterprises (SME).

The EIB officials said while tourism is one of the areas the EIB funds, it is often difficult to get approval for luxury hotels. However, he said it would be much easier to get funding to assist the SME’s.

Minister Michael welcomed the visit by the official and he said his ministry would spearhead the initiative to ensure that Antigua and Barbuda brings its indebtedness up-to-date in order to resume access to the EIB funds.