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By Unity Labour Party

The issue

The government of SVG (GOSVG) has secured a soft-loan of US$66 million or EC$178 million from the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) in two tranches: US$16 million or EC$43.2 million in mid-2023; and US$50 million or EC$135 million in April 2024.  The first tranche was approved by the Parliament last year; and the second on May 10, 2024.  The GOSVG will provide counterpart funding of US$9 million or EC$24.3 million.

These loans arose out of an official visit paid to Saudi Arabia by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in June 2023, although the preliminary discussions were ongoing for a year or so before.  It is part and parcel of the broadening of the ULP government’s diplomatic initiatives and its construction of partnerships globally beyond our traditional alliances, which remains solid.

The first tranche (EC$43.2 million) of the soft loan is to construct a Cultural, Artistic, Educational and Production Hub at Belle Vue and two satellite hubs in North Leeward (one each at Troumaca and Petit Bordel) and a Modern Health Facility at South Rivers, and the rehabilitation of certain health clinics.

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The second tranche (EC$135.0 million) of the soft loan is intended for the following six components: (i) Rehabilitation and building of primary and secondary schools (EC$27 million); (ii) Rehabilitation of national security facilities (EC$17.5 million); (iii) Reconstruction and construction of health facilities (EC$21.6 million); (iv) Improving Sports facilities (EC$27 million); (v) Rehabilitation and rebuilding of homes damaged by the volcanic eruptions (EC$35.1 million); and (vi) Contingency (EC$6.75 million).  The loans are for 20 years with a 5-yar grace period at the low fixed rate of two percent interest annually.

Status of projects from first tranche

  • The Cultural, Educational Production Hubs:  The objective of this project is to facilitate educational, cultural, artistic, social, and agricultural activities which will enhance all aspects of community life, foster economic development, encourage a culture of non-violent self-expression, propel a greater sense of ownership, build community spirit and national pride.  The project will focus on certain cultural domains: crafts and folk art, painting and designs, film and acting, literature and media arts, and music (including recording and performance facilities).  The Hub at Belle Bue will provide, additionally, an agro-product and agro-processing unit, inclusive of a market.  Education, training, and skills development in various fields will be provided at all three hubs.  The duration for the hubs’ construction: 2024 – 2026.

To date, the site locations have been identified.  Contracts have been awarded for design, preparation of bills of quantities, and for construction supervision.  An Italian company has been selected to design the Belle Vue Hub and two local firms have been contracted for the Troumaca and Petit Bordel satellite hubs respectively.  The final designs are to be delivered at the end of May 2024.  Tenders will be advertised for construction firms.  Construction is expected to commence by October 2024.  A special contract is to be awarded for the removal of the asbestos roof at the Belle Vue site.  Minor relocations are to be done.

  • Construction of South Rivers Health Facility and Repair of Some Clinics: The site has been identified and the land has been purchased. A St. Lucian firm has been awarded the contract to undertake construction designs which are to be submitted by the end of May 2024.  The other procurement processes are then to be concluded for commencement of construction by October 2024.  This facility will be a Modern Health Centre providing a range of services beyond the usual clinic; it will include staff quarters for nurses and a doctor.  This Health Centre will cost nearly EC$10 million to construct and equip.  A few other clinics, including those at Park Hill and Colonarie, will be renovated.  The South Rivers Health Clinic will be constructed between 2024 and 2026.

5 bundles of projects under second tranche

Five bundles of projects, inclusive of contingencies, totaling EC$135 million are as follows:

  • Rehab and building of primary and secondary schools:
  • Rehabilitation of schools (Estimated project cost: EC$11.748 million of which $1.488 in local loan and $10.260 from SFD).  Duration of project, 2024 – 2025.  This sub-project involves the extensive repairing and rehabilitation of educational institutions across SVG. This sub-project will cover structural works including provisions for persons with disabilities; upgrade of plumbing and electricals; furnishing and equipment; security facilities (booths, plastic safety mirrors, and cameras).
  • Construction of Brighton Secondary School (Estimated project cost: EC$16.8 million of which $3.4 million in local loan and $13.4 million from SFD).  Project duration: 2024 – 2026.  This secondary school, the first in East St. George, will be designed to accommodate 500 students.  It will be equipped to include modern audio-visual systems, spacious classrooms, library, TVET facilities, science laboratories, restrooms and showers, playing field and parking.  The TVET facilities will be available to the surrounding communities.
  • Construction of the TVET Centre on Union Island: (Estimated project cost: EC$3.1 million of which $299,000 in local loan and $2.8 million from SDF).  Duration of project: 2024 – 2025.
  • Rehab of National Security Facilities:
  • Building of a Modern Police Station at Stubbs: (Estimated project cost EC$7.6 million of which $1.05 in local loan and $6.545 million from SDF). Duration of project: 2024 – 2026.
  • Upgrade of Twenty Police Stations: (Estimated Cost: EC$8 million.  Duration: 2024 – 2205).  In some cases, minor repairs and rehab; in others, major repairs.
  • Reconstruction and Rehab of Health Facilities
  • Construction of Redemption Sharpes/Lodge Village Health Clinic: (Estimated Cost: EC$4.899 million of which $867,000 in local loan and $4.032 million from SFD).  Duration: 2024-2026.  This will be a very modern facility inclusive of staff quarters for nurses, accident and emergency, dental services.  Duration of project: 2024 – 2026.
  • Reconstruction of the Paget Farm Health Centre: (Estimated Cost: EC$4.072 of which $846,000 in local loan and $3.23 million from SDF). Duration: 2024 – 2026. Similar facilities as for the Health Clinic at Sharpes/Lodge Village.
  • Construction of Polyclinic at Calliaqua: (Estimated Cost: EC$11.127 million of which $1.987 million in local loan and $9.139 million from SFD). It will be a SMART facility with extensive polyclinic facilities; and it will provide hyperbaric services, taking account of the divers in the Calliaqua area.  The project’s duration is estimated at 2024- 2026.
  • Construction of a modern Byera Clinic: (Estimated Cost: EC$5,971 million of which $864,000 in local loan and $5.11 from SFD).  Duration of project 2024 – 2026.  This Clinic was already designed under a World Bank soft-loan project.  The design is now being reviewed under the SFD loan. Construction is expected to start in late 2024 and to be completed in 2026.  However, before this construction commences, a temporary clinic is to be built for $600,000 along the lines of the temporary one in South Rivers; it will be built on the lands which the GOSVG has agreed to purchase from the Anglican Church.  Then the current old clinic will be demolished for construction of the modern clinic.
  • Improvement of Sport Facilities – The Diamond Sports Facility: (Estimated Cost: EC$45 million of which $14.655 million in local loans, IDA/World Bak soft-loan of $3.4 million, and $27 million from SFD).  This project is ongoing. Some $17 million have so far been spent from local loans and the IDA/World Bank soft-loan on what is there already.  The SFD loan is to provide for further expansion of the facility, including lights, other buildings, warm-up tracks, and ancillary works.  All these works are slated to be completed by end of 2025.
  • Rehab and Rebuilding of Homes: there are four components to this project.  In summary they are:
  • Lives to Live Project;
  • Housing Reconstruction Project;
  • Housing Infrastructure Improvement Project; and
  • Housing Rehab Project.

Under the component of the Lives to Live Project, it is planned to construct 60 one-bedroom houses, 90 two-bedroom houses, to repair 95 houses, and to distribute building materials for the differently-abled, indigent, and elderly.

Under the Housing Reconstruction Project, it is planned to construct bases and erect structures of 35 modular houses, to undertake repair works to 350 damaged houses, to reconstruct 25 houses (Levels 3 and 4 damage), to undertake accompanying infrastructure works, and to commence Phase I of the Clare Valley River Defence works.

Under the Housing Rehabilitation Project, it is planned to construct 5 one-bedroom and 5 two-bedroom plywood houses; to construct 12 one-bedroom, 20 two-bedroom, and 7 three-bedroom houses; to repair 50 houses nationwide; and to purchase materials for distribution to the poor and needy.

This is a huge programme of housing.

Final note

Never in the history of SVG has so much been already accomplished for the poor and disadvantaged in the area of housing.  Never has so much been mobilised to be spent in such a short period for schools, health clinics, police stations, and cultural-educational hubs. Never in our nation’s history has so much been ever planned for housing for the poor and needy.  The people are saying: “Always ULP for SVG!”

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One reply on “$178m soft-loan from Saudi Fund for Development”

  1. Sometimes we speak as though Soft Loans are not repayable by taxpayers and their children and grandchildren and unborn generations .

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