CDB delegation visits Guyana

UK £300M Caribbean Development Fund

British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregg Quinn
British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregg Quinn

A United Kingdom/Caribbean Development Bank (UK/CDB) delegation visited Guyana last week to discuss possible projects and proposals, as this country prepares to receive part of a £300 million Caribbean Infrastructure Fund promised to countries in the Region by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregg Quinn told Guyana Times on Tuesday that Guyana remained eligible for the UK Fund, which was announced by the British PM last September in neighbouring Jamaica.
In September 2015, the Prime Minister, during a visit to the island, had told then Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller that his Government was moving in this direction to help the Caribbean on its path of development – supporting economic growth and creating new opportunities for people living in the Region.
The Prime Minister announced the new Fund in Jamaica on the first leg of a two-day visit focused on reinvigorating the relationship between the UK and Caribbean countries.
Delivered in collaboration with the CDB, the Fund will use money from the UK’s existing aid budget to provide grants over the next few years for a range of projects that will help boost growth and trade across the Region, creating jobs and opening up new market opportunities for British businesses.
The British High Commissioner said the prospects were looking good.
“This will be managed and allocated through the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).  A UK/CDB delegation was in Georgetown…to discuss possible projects and the processes for submitting proposals.  All is, therefore, looking good, on track and progress is being made.  The UK is fully committed to ensuring Guyana gets its fair share of the available grant funding,” he told Guyana Times.
In January, Quinn had said that his Government was scheduled to sign an agreement with the CDB. According to him, the countries will be able to access the funding through the Bank.
He said he had already held discussions with the Government of Guyana in relation to the grant and Government had expressed the desire to have the money invested in infrastructure, that is, roads, bridges, ports, stellings, and aerodromes.
“Government is looking in the areas that are specified in the grant because although it will be grant funding, there will be conditions in terms of we have to spend it on these broad areas,” Quinn stated.
However, he noted that Government has not earmarked any specific projects since it had to await guidelines from the CDB.
With this grant, the UK has become one of the largest bilateral donors to the Region. However, only the Commonwealth Caribbean, including Guyana, will be benefiting. The other beneficiaries include Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica, Belize, St Lucia, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Previously, High Commissioner Quinn had explained that some $450 million of the grant will be directed towards infrastructure works. In addition, he outlined that the British Prime Minister also announced some $45 million to be plugged into improving healthcare facilities as well as a similar amount to boost economic growth in the benefiting countries.
Quinn emphasised that the money was not a loan and as such would not have to be repaid. He noted that the monies would be given to the various Governments to be injected into projects agreed upon. The UK will be working along with the various Caribbean Heads to identify and establish their respective projects. The UK Government, in collaboration with the CDB, will be monitoring the programme.
However, at this point it is unclear how much of the grant will be given to Guyana. The High Commissioner had stated that while no specific amount was allocated to any one of the eight countries that will benefit, the expectation is that the monies will be disbursed evenly among them.
He did note, however, that the determination of the allocated amount would also be dependent on the nature of the project and request submitted.
Additionally, he outlined that there was no requirement for the countries to use contracting companies from the UK to carry out their projects.