Friday, December 15, 2017

$1b in IDB loans for T&T

Work on flooding, infrastructure


Mark Fraser

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved four loans worth over $1 billion (US$159.5 million) for infrastructural and development works in Trinidad and Tobago.

The loans, which were approved late last year, cover: 

• Flood Alleviation and Drainage Programme for the City of Port of Spain - US$120 million;

• Finance Strengthened Information Management at the Registrar General’s Department—US$20 million;

• Global Services Promotion Programme—US$18 million;

•  Letter of Agreement for an Individual Operation within the Line of Credit for the Project Preparation and Execution Facility (PROPEF) to support the proposed Health Services Support Programme (HSSP)—US$1.5 million.

The first three loans are for a five-year period, and the last for two years, because it is a preparatory undertaking, Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie told reporters at a news conference to announce the signing of the loan agreement yesterday at the Planning Ministry offices in Port of Spain. He added that the interest rate will be very low, based on libor (the global benchmark for short-term lending rates) plus a very small percentage, so under two per cent. 

“The first thing is to get to this point where we can sign for the loan. Once that is done then we can see the money,” he said. 

IDB country representative Michelle Cross Fenty said these loans have “a very deliberate process”. “We have a timetable with expectations for where we will meet certain expectations and that is a strategic objective of any of the loans we give. We have technical experts at the bank so projects and executions are tracked carefully. We are not in the business of giving additional loans if a government can’t implement and execute the ones they’ve already got. We do have very deliberate milestones,” she said.

Water Resources and the Environment Minister Ganga Singh, whose ministry will receive the largest allocation, said he expected work on projects for Port of Spain flood alleviation to begin by the end of March.  

“I’d like to assure that the IDB has been giving loans to the government for many years and we have a very deliberate process. It is imperative we see some results by the government,” Cross Fenty said. 

The largest investment loan in the Caribbean from the bank ever for US$250 million was for WASA wastewater centre. The entire project will (cumulatively) cost US$596 million.  

“The board of the IDB looks at the performance of the loans and it was critical to be able to demonstrate that (Singh’s) ministry had a good track record and they have. They have managed their existing loans and implemented projects rather well,” Cross Fenty said.