Roseau, Dominica – January 18, 2008…………. Dominica’s Prime Minster, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit has reported on his success in securing grant financing of US$15 million (approximately $40 million ECD) from the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the construction of a new headquarters to house the OECS Secretariat.
The Dominican Leader, who is also Chairman of the OECS Authority, made the announcement at his first press conference for the New Year, 2008 held at the Financial Centre recently.
According to Hon. Skerrit, he was given the mandate by his OECS colleague Heads to engage friendly governments and organisations with a view to raising the required financing to build a new headquarters for the OECS Secretariat in Castries, St. Lucia.
The Prime Minister also announced that as a result of a grant of US$8.7 million from Venezuela, work would commence this year on the construction of sea and river defence walls as well as road diversion under the Melville Hall Airport Development project. The Government of Venezuela has already committed US$ 10 million for earth movement and river diversion, currently underway at the airport.
During the press conference, the Prime Minister also stated:
· Dominica has joined the ALBA(Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), an initiative the Prime Minister believes will redound to the benefit of the Dominican people
· $12 million from the Government of Venezuela will go towards the agricultural sector, with a technical team expected on island in early February for discussions with Ministry of Agriculture officials on priority areas for investment
· Investment in the agricultural sector will look at procurement of cheaper inputs, maximising and increasing poultry production, employing new technology to improve pork production and investing in the fisheries sub-sector with a view to increasing volume of fish catches
· An amount of $16 million for the Carib Territory, $ 8 million from Venezuela in the form of a grant and the other $ 8 million is a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank
· From the $8 million grant from Venezuela, forty(40) new homes will be constructed in the Carib Territory and a new primary school will be built
· $8 million loan from the CDB will also be used to increase capacity, train people in the area of arts and craft, install modern washroom facilities and the construction of new roads
· The Ministry of National Security has provided the Police Force with fifteen (15) new vehicles, the Prison Service with two(2) and the Fire and Ambulance Service, one(1) in the last few weeks as a result of the provision of a grant of $8 million by the Government of Venezuela
· An order has been placed for a new patrol vessel, a scenes of crime vehicle and a mobile police station
During the press conference, the Prime Minister reported on the success of the construction of the Fuel Storage and Distribution facility at Jimmit. This initiative under the PetroCaribe project is expected to open in late February, early March, 2008, Hon. Skerrit said.
In relation to the Venezuelan Government’s offer to build an oil refinery in Dominica, the Prime Minister reported that his Government would go ahead with the project once “the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) advises it is environmentally sound and it is okay to move ahead with the project”. (Ends)