(LOOP NEWS CARIBBEAN) – Since 2005, Grenada has benefitted from close to US $200 million of grant aid from the People’s Republic of China.
This figure was providing following a courtesy visit which Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell received from Chinese Ambassador, Zhao Yongchen this week.
Both men discussed ongoing projects and examined potential areas for deepening bilateral cooperation.
The Prime Minister was updated 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 per cent 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.
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.
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.”
It was also highlighted during the meeting that agriculture has been a long-standing area of bilateral cooperation between Grenada and China.
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 also cited as an area where cooperation can be deepened.
Grenada resumed diplomatic relations with the Republic of China in 2005.