Tuesday 13th November, 2018-The Minister of Education, Science and Technology has expressed appreciation on behalf of the government to those who preside over the CARICOM Development Fund for the assistance it has received from the financial institution dating back to 2014.
Substituting for Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Minister Michael Browne told the Seventh Meeting of Contributors and Development Partners of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) in Bridgetown today that through the CDF’s support, Antigua and Barbuda was able to focus on “enhancing foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector, and contributing to a reduction in youth unemployment.”
Some of the projects identified include the Redevelopment of the Lower St. John’s Cruise Ship Terminal and the completion of The Learning Resource Centre at the Antigua State College. The CARICOM Development Fund also played an important part in the recovery from the impact of Hurricane Irma in September 2017, Minister Browne reminded.
He told the gathering at the Hilton Barbados Resort that “Antigua and Barbuda is of the view that since the CDF’s commencement in November 2008, or ten years ago, the Fund has clearly made an impact in the region. It has struck a pathway that is helpful to both the Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs) and, equally so,to the More Developed Countries (MDCs) which it both serves.”
He added that “as one of the LDCs, Antigua and Barbuda is pleased to lend its support to a Fund that dismisses the Per Capita GDP criterion, and places emphasis instead upon the inherent vulnerability of small island-developing states (SIDS).” The prime minister through the minister of education noted that his government appreciates having a source of ready financing disbursed in grants, and by concessionary loans made more affordable by interest subsidies.”
The meeting was told that the CDF is presently cooperating with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, through the Ministry responsible for energy, on The Green Barbuda Project. The renewable energy project will provide for the commissioning of a state-of-the-art ground-mounted, hybrid photovoltaic electricity plant, incorporating battery storage with minor reliance upon diesel engines. This plant will enable Barbuda to move towards being probably the first 100% green-energy island community in the Caribbean.
According to the prime minister, despite a limited resource base, the CDF now boasts a total portfolio of approved loans and grants of US$61.74 million(or, EC$166.70 million) dollars. The total loan portfolio, as at the end of 2017 was US$39.68 million (or EC$107.14 million) dollars; while grants totaled US$22.06 million (EC$59.56million) dollars. Overall, for both cycle 1 and cycle 2, loans were 1.80 times the value of grants. Member States on average, therefore, received almost three times as much as they contributed to the CDF.