BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Government of Barbados is set to receive a cash injection of US$115 million from the Government of China for the Scotland District road rehabilitation project in the east of the island.
On Friday, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley signed a framework agreement for a concessional loan from the EXIM Bank of China, to fund the road rehabilitation project, with China’s Ambassador Yan Xiusheng.
Soil erosion and land slippage in the Scotland District have been a major problem for residents and Government, with urgent calls for assistance.
“The reality is that there are 224 kilometers of roads – 56 roads to be precise – that will be done as a result of this loan. This is critical to the stability of a large part of our country and to those people who live in the eastern parishes, in particular, St Andrew, St Joseph, St John, in particular, parts of St Thomas and parts of St Lucy, St Peter,” Prime Minister Mottley remarked during the signing ceremony.
“As we seek to deal with road upgrading, reconstruction of roads and major repairs to other roads, new asphalt paying, some bridge-building; we believe that over the course of the next few years, over the life of this project, we will do much to stabilize the Scotland District,” she added.
Mottley indicated that due to the poor road infrastructure of the Scotland District, major tour operators have decided to stop traversing the east coast with visitors. She emphasized that this was a great disservice to the island and its offerings as a tourist attraction.
“The east coast for many Barbadians is that pride of place, where we get to show the world the beauty of this country and for us to have that deprived from us both personally for those of us who have family who come back but also visitors who know nothing about the country but who want to see the glory and beauty of the country would have been a hard, hard pill for us to swallow.
“And therefore we’ve set about from as far back as then in terms of trying to find the financing that is affordable and a mechanism for sustainable development of our roads,” Mottley said.
According to the loan agreement with EXIM Bank, the interest rate will be two per cent. Government will be allowed to pay the two per cent over 20 years, while the EXIM Bank will subsidize the difference between two per cent and the market rate of four to five per cent over the course of the loan.
“We want, on behalf of the people of Barbados, and the Government of Barbados, to thank the people and government of the People’s Republic of China for so graciously agreeing to provide that subsidy while allowing us then to service the two per cent interest on the US$115 million which is by far, a smaller amount when you look at the market rates,” added Mottley.