PARLIAMENT has approved the early release of an additional EC$70 million from the money allocated for the Kingstown Port before the year’s end.
On Monday, October 17 Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Information Technology, Camillo Gonsalves went to Parliament to ask that Supplementary Estimate number one of 2022 be approved so funds could be released early.
Gonsalves said the Kingstown Port Modernisation Project has been going better and faster than anticipated and the Ministry of Urban Development needed more of the already-allocated funding earlier than expected to carry on the project.
He said this request was not to borrow additional money but to release the funds already borrowed for the project.
“This is not additional borrowing, this is money that we already have, that we’ve already borrowed. This is just the bookkeeping to say that the money we borrowed we are using it now, so there are no new loans here,” the Finance Minister said.
The Port Modernising Project is being constructed at a cost of US$250.8 million and is being done as a joint initiative with grant financing of US$36 million from the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (UKCIF), administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB.)
Gonsalves said the early release of funds was necessary because the project had progressed better than expected.
Further, that the Government was very proud of the project and dismissed any rumblings that the request for the early release of funding could mean the Government could be trying to hide details of the project.
Gonsalves said he recently had a conversation with staff at the Agency for Public Information (API), asking that regular updates be published about the project.
“Because as far as I’m concerned Madame Speaker, we should be shouting about this from the rooftops, not hiding it; and I believe that I got some buy-in from members about finding new angles and new ways to talk about this project but the fact of the matter is, at no point, at not a single moment, has there been any attempt to hide anything about this port project.”
He said “It could have gone wrong, but things went right. So here we are in a situation where things went right and went smoother than expected when we were saying anything would throw it off, and then fellas talking as if some tremendous error has been made.”
“ No, it is because everyone did their job and did it brilliantly that we are in the situation that we are in now,” Gonsalves said.