PR – Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, received a courtesy visit from Chinese Ambassador, Zhao Yongchen this week during which they discussed ongoing projects and examined potential areas for deepening bilateral cooperation.
Ambassador Zhao updated the Prime Minister on the status of the five low-income housing projects that are currently underway in St. George, St. Mark, St. Patrick, St. David and Carriacou. All of the projects are between 80 and 92% complete, with the hand-over of the units, expected to take place in 2021, followed by the distribution process to qualifying families.
The Prime Minister said, “We are deeply appreciative of this project. As we are well aware, owning a home, provides a great measure of security for individuals, therefore through this initiative, we will be empowering hundreds of Grenadian families. These projects demonstrate that Government is in fact delivering on its commitment to provide quality housing as a top priority.”
Overall, the housing projects will comprise 647 units and applications for ownership will be reviewed by a selection committee.
Since 2005, Grenada has benefitted from close to US $200 million of grant aid from the People’s Republic of China.
Later this month, the sod will be turned for another major undertaking between the two countries, the St. George Airport Runway and Road Upgrade and Rehabilitation Project, funded through a concessional loan to the Government.
It is Grenada’s first loan from the Chinese and the project which will bring significantly and timely upgrades to the Maurice Bishop International Airport, will also create employment for close to 200 Grenadians.
Dr. Mitchell said, “This airport project is very important for Grenada and it comes at an opportune time. The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for the tourism sector but we are confident that it will recover and undertaking the upgrade now means Grenada will be well-positioned to capitalise on the anticipated growth in the sector once activity resumes in earnest. The process of finalising the project has been painstakingly slow but it was necessary to carefully review the proposals and the terms and conditions of this our first loan from China. We are satisfied with that review process and are now ready to begin the project.”
Agriculture has been a long-standing area of bilateral cooperation between Grenada and China and Ambassador Zhao said they are seeking to expand Phase 8 of the Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project. More land is therefore being sought to facilitate this and the details will be discussed with the Ministry of Agriculture before a submission is made to the Cabinet for approval.
Youth development was cited as an area where cooperation can be deepened. Ambassador Zhao said, “The Republic of China attaches great significance to youth development and our country has great experience in organising programmes for our youth. We will be delighted to share experiences and offer opportunities for youth exchanges between the two countries.”
The Prime Minister, who recently assumed responsibility for the portfolio of Youth Development, welcomed the offer and suggested that further discussions be held among the relevant persons.
Grenada resumed diplomatic relations with the Republic of China in 2005.