KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Two infrastructural development projects expected to improve the lives of residents in two parts of this country, will begin soon after the presentation of a cheque for US$1.274 million (EC$3,423,911.43) to the government from Taiwan on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, in accepting the cheque from Taiwanese ambassador Weber Shih, said the monies comprise an EC$2.5 million annual donation for civic development projects, and part of US$2 million in assistance for recovery after the flood in north-eastern St. Vincent last April.
He said the monies are separate from other specific funds, including US$30 million for construction of the terminal building at the Argyle International Airport, US$20 million of which is a grant and a loan of US$10 million.
The government in Taipei has agreed to give Kingstown favourable consideration for additional resources if there is cost overrun on the terminal building.
“You would notice that I visit Taiwan quite a lot, I visit Cuba quite a lot. I visit Venezuela, I visit the United States, I visit Britain and Europe, I visit Canada,” said Gonsalves who has visited Taiwan twice since 2008.
“These are countries, which we have very close relations with. And it is important for me, at a personal level to be in touch with the leaders of these countries and for them to get to know us better,” he siad.
He said that in that way, “St. Vincent and the Grenadines will ever be within the frame and compass of our friends so that we can work together in the development of this country”.
Of the monies, EC$830,000 will go to the rehabilitation of the Langley Park River Basin, which was significantly damaged during the flash flood.
The tendering process and other preparatory works for that project have been completed and actual construction will begin soon, Gonsalves said.
The Vermont-Francois Bridge will get two separate amounts of EC$402,300 and EC$581,770, while EC$1,532,400 is reimbursement for the financing of the Youth Empowerment Service (YES Programme) from the second half of 2011.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Shih said he was delighted to present the monies on behalf of his government.
“The rehabilitation of the Langley Park River Basin and the construction of the Vermont-Francois Bridge both are eagerly expected by the people and will ensure the safety and development of two respective programmes and the YES programme has already been recognised as a best practise in Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.
“We continue to assist the Vincentian youth in pursing their career opportunities. Over the years, our bilateral cooperation has been bearing juicy fruit and showing people the effectiveness of cooperation through a wide range of areas,” Shih said of the relation ship between Kingstown and Taipei, which has remained unbroken since1981.