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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, right, and Chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), Ahmed Al Khateeb at Argyle International Airport on Friday, May 26, 2023. (Photo: Facebook/NBC Radio)
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, right, and Chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), Ahmed Al Khateeb at Argyle International Airport on Friday, May 26, 2023. (Photo: Facebook/NBC Radio)
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Chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), Ahmed Al Khateeb and St. Vincent and the Grenadines’  (SVG) Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves have signed two loan agreements worth US$16 million to construct a primary care centre in the South Rivers area and a cultural centre of arts in Belle Vue. 

SVG Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves witnessed the singing of the agreements in St. Vincent, which are part of the efforts undertaken by Saudi Arabia, through the SFD to support sustainable development in developing countries and small island developing states (SIDS) around the world. 

Since its establishment in 1974, SFD has implemented more than 700 development projects and programmes in 85 countries worldwide. 

The signing today marked SFD’s first presence in SVG, making it the 86th country to receive funding for a development project from SFD. 

“The agreements align closely with SFD’s goal of supporting the healthcare and social infrastructure sectors,” a press release said. 

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The first loan agreement for the construction of a primary care centre in South Rivers, worth $6 million, will contribute in enhancing the quality of the healthcare sector, ensuring that the local population has access to healthcare services, managing chronic diseases and potentially reducing mortality rates in the region, the release said.

The project will, furthermore, create direct and indirect job opportunities, in addition to training medical staff and helping to strengthen long-term healthcare capacity and resilience.

The second loan agreement, worth $10 million, is for the construction of a cultural artistic hub and market for craft and agricultural products in Belle Vue. 

“The project will promote the nation’s craft, handicraft, cultural and creative industries, making important contributions towards boosting tourism and the economy, while also supporting health and wellbeing, promoting social inclusion and enhancing social capital,” the release said. 

Moreover, the projects will contribute towards the realisation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 3, Good Health and Well-being, and SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth. 

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Gonsalves, said: 

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a staunch supporter of this country and a vital leader in the Middle East.  St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been seeking to further boost relations for some time, building on earlier relations dating back to the governance of Sir Milton Cato.”

Meanwhile, Al Khateeb, said: “Today marks an exciting and bright chapter for both of our countries, having signed the first projects in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This cooperation signifies the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to promoting sustainable socio-economic development in developing countries and SIDS, and supporting the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”

“These two agreements emphasise the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to supporting small island developing states to overcome the faced sustainable development and climate change challenges. The agreements, furthermore, reaffirm the importance of international cooperation and solidarity to achieve sustainable development goals and foster economic and social growth, particularly in SIDS,” the release said. 

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