St. Vincent and the Grenadines will this week sign in Saudi Arabia agreements relating to school, health, housing and other governmental infrastructure.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is leading a 10-member delegation to the first Saudi Arabia-CARICOM summit, scheduled for Thursday.
The summit will focus on fostering investment and trade, particularly in critical sectors such as infrastructure, hospitality, energy, climate change, and environmental sustainability.
“As you know, several of us have been building these relations and you know we have signed already US$16 million agreement … 20 years, 2% fixed rate of interest, which is quite low to do some health facilities,” Gonsalves told the media on Friday.
The delegation includes Minister of Urban Development, Senator Benarva Browne, Parliamentary-Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Shackell Bobb and Angie Williams, permanent secretary, Office of the Prime Minister
Gonsalves said the centrepiece of the US$16 million agreement would be a modern health centre in South Rivers.
“We have paid for the land where we want to do it, the design process has commenced for that,” he said, adding that hopefully construction can begin somewhere by the middle of next year.
“Because the design has to be done, it has to go out to tender, international tender and the like to get the contractor.”
The prime minister said some of that money will go to the repair of other health clinics across the country as well as an educational, cultural, artistic and production hub at Bellevue and one each in Petit Bordel and Troumaca.
“That’s consisting of the US$16 million. But that was just the first,” Gonsalves said.
“We have sent in other projects and I’m going to sign in relation to those projects,” he said.
The other members of the delegation are Senior Engineer Cecil Harris;, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Invest, Tony Regisford; economist Janelle Hannaway-Horne; CEO of SVG Tourism Authority, Avanell Da Silva; Press Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, Shevrell “Candyman” McMillan; and, Security Officer Sergeant Kendal Horne.
The prime minister said he would attempt to travel from Saudi Arabia to Qatar “for a day or two since I’m in the neighbourhood.
“Because I have made an application from the Qatari Fund for certain resources, including very importantly to build a science, technology and innovation lab as part of enhancement of the work of the COMMUNITY COLLEGE and the global campus of the University of the West Indies. I have the land earmarked already, going up the Frenches area, just behind the University of the West Indies,” Gonsalves said.
“Again, we have been building relations with Qatar over a period of time. We have gotten some links to do some work. I am trying to organise that to see if I can get some work done so that I don’t have to go another time.”