The Guyana Government has begun discussions with the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) for a US$300M loan to fund a number of infrastructure projects, including a second road to the airport.
President Jagdeo, who made the announcement at a press briefing on Friday to discuss his week-long visit to the United States, said that the loan should be approved by next year.
He said the proposed second road to Timehri would bypass the city and connect with the East Coast Demerara highway. He said this was necessary because the East Bank Demerara road would not be able to handle the traffic in the future. Jagdeo said the government is already moving ahead with the feasibility study.
The government, he noted, had just awarded a US$22M project to resurface the road between Mahaica and Rosignol, and another US$20M to build and widen some 60 bridges. Funding has also been secured for the resurfacing of the airport runway, for the housing and water sectors, and the urban development project which includes funding for solid waste management and a new incinerator for the city.
He added that the Caribbean Development Bank is to fund a project to build a four- lane road to the Demerara Harbour Bridge from the city. Jagdeo said that once those projects got underway, jobs would be created.
In Washington, Jagdeo said that he had met with representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and representatives of the US government including the head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
In his meeting with the IMF, he said that they had reached agreement on a timetable that would take the government and the IMF to the mid-term and the Enhanced HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) Initiative.
The IMF team is due in the country this week for further discussion. The discussions, he said, are a bit tough especially in relation to the Enhanced HIPC Initiative. However, if that was to be approved some time later this year, he said Guyana would receive millions of dollars in debt savings and debt servicing payments.
He said the government and the IMF still had some differences on a number of issues including increased taxation, and noted that because of this on a previous occasion he had arranged for an IMF team to meet with members of the private sector in Guyana.
The President said he had also spoken with representatives of the US Treasury which represents the US Government on the boards of the multilateral financial institutions. He noted that from time to time Guyana's cases for loans, grants and the HIPC initiative go to the boards of these institutions, "so it is necessary that we secure the US Government's support to vote in favour of our cases."
He said he had to point out the peculiarities of Guyana, which has a large per capita cost for infrastructure due to the high cost to maintain the sea defence system. In addition he gave the example of having to lay about 90 miles of water transmission pipes just to cover Region Five (Mahaica/West Berbice) with only a limited number of people living in scattered communities. Ninety miles of transmission mains, he said would be adequate for the whole of the island of Barbados.
In his meeting with the Head of USAID, Jagdeo said that they had spoken about the fight against HIV/AIDS and trade issues. He noted that with USAID help, Guyana had put in place a national secretariat and strategies including the production of anti-retroviral drugs with USAID assistance.
He said the Head of USAID mission in Guyana had indicated that he had requested some US$1M in financing to help to tackle the HIV/AIDS problem in Guyana.
In addition, he said that he has met with the two US senators who were recently in Guyana. He said they had indicated that Guyana was to benefit from President Bush's HIV/AIDS initiative for 15 countries in Africa and the Caribbean as announced in his State of the Union address. That assistance he said would come next year. In addition, Guyana's application to the Global Fund for assistance in fighting AIDS should be approved sometime in October. With this financing, a dent should be made in the AIDS pandemic in Guyana, he said.
In terms of obtaining assistance from the Global Fund in relation to the fight against AIDS, Jagdeo said that Guyana's proposals had some technical defects but the country had received help to correct them. (Miranda La Rose)