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Parliament Approves USD 10 Million for Various Projects

The Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday approved a USD 10,000,000.00 loan from the Export-Import Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan) that will finance a number of projects.

Opposition Leader Allen Chastanet during his contribution to the House, however, questioned whether a clause was put in place to cap the interest rate from the loan, claiming “interest rates are increasing globally.”

Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Hon. Phillip J. Pierre
Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Hon. Phillip J. Pierre

“That is always something that we (previous government) made sure that we put, in that, there be a cap on the interest rate, as well as resilience clauses, so that in case there is a catastrophe, that the loan would be abated while that catastrophe is taking place. I know that he is (Prime Minister and Minister of Finance) very well versed in these things and it may not have been included in the information, but certainly it’s a question I would have liked to ask him,” Chastanet said, adding “this 10 million-dollar loan that they’re taking, under our administration the decision was to use that money for St Jude’s.”

According to Chastanet, the previous government had already obtained concessional loans from the Taiwanese government. The latter had already invested approximately USD 30,000,000.00 into St Jude Hospital.

“It would have only been fitting to have used the remaining amount to have brought that project to a completion,” Chastanet said.

Prime Minister Philip J Pierre, in his address to the House, presented a number of reasons for taking the loan.  According to him, whilst it is necessary for governments to borrow money, it must be productive; Pierre noted that the loan will benefit citizens.

“ECD $500,000 will be used for the expansion of the craft and sea moss subsectors. Saint Lucia has been doing very well in the production of sea moss for exports and we want to increase the value of the product. With the support of Export Saint Lucia and the Ministry of Agriculture that work is being done so that we can increase foreign exchange and increase our export of sea moss at a higher value,” Pierre said.

Further, he stated, “Saint has been producing some very attractive pieces of craft particularly from Choiseul and that loan will be used to uplift the craft centre and to uplift the production of craft, causing the people of Saint Lucia to get involved in the development of the country.”

Allen Chastanet - Micoud South (UWP)
Leader of Opposition Allen Chastanet – MP Micoud South (UWP)

ECD 7.2 million will be used for the much talked about Youth Economy, an area spearheaded by Pierre and 3.4 million towards a Street Lighting Replacement Project.

“I read the terms (and it is) repayable after 20 years; each instalment of USD 333,000,” Pierre stated.

The prime minister added that four million dollars will be allocated for the West Coast Road Reconstruction project whilst $200,000 will be allocated for the National Competitiveness Agenda.

“We are going to be using EC$200,000 for the National Competitiveness Agenda that is to… create a partnership with the Complete Caribbean Partnership Facility which was able to formulate a National Competitor’s Agenda and a draft innovation policy. Saint Lucia (has) to be able to compete (globally) so we’re using $200,000 from that money to upgrade the level of competition in Saint Lucia,” Pierre said.

Other money bills also tabled in Parliament Tuesday authorized government to borrow EUR 13,500,000.00 from the European Investment Bank to finance emergency operating expenses in the health sector related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parliament also heard of a USD 8,000,000.00 loan from the International Development Association to finance the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Data for Decision Making Project as well as a USD 18,000,000.00 from the International Development Association for the implementation of the Unleashing of the Blue Economy of the Caribbean Project.

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