October 18 2017
According to Browne, at least US$100 million would be needed to rebuild
Barbuda after Hurricane slammed into the island last month. | Photo: Reuters
- The loan approved by the World Bank is less than half of the amount petitioned by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
Antigua and Barbuda is considering a request to renegotiate a US$40 million loan from the World Bank for reconstruction of hurricane-torn Barbuda.
The loan approved by the international body with a term stretching 10 years and an interest rate of 3.5 to 4 percent is less than half of the amount petitioned by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
According to Browne, at least US$100 million would be needed to rebuild Barbuda after Hurricane Irma devastated the island last month.
“We have asked them to reconsider the terms and they said they will put it to the board and will get back to us,” Browne said during an interview with a local radio station, adding that he didn’t feel the loan’s terms and conditions were in the best interest of the island and is requesting that the interest rate be lowered to one percent.
“As far as we are concerned, the term is too short and we have asked them to reconsider and perhaps consider up to 20 years with a five-year moratorium,” Browne said
“If it were grants, we would push for some more, but we have to be careful in terms of how much we borrow, because … you have to have the capacity to repay,” he said.
Funds are being poured into a non-revenue-earning project
The prime minister said these alterations would be necessary as the funds are being poured into a non-revenue-earning project.
“For example, in Barbuda, we will be putting the lines underground, we will be replacing all of the wooden posts with concrete posts and, technically speaking, they will not be creating any funds, any revenue, so again we have to make sure we do not overburden the Treasury, because at the end of the day we have to pay it back,” Browne said.
Following September’s natural disaster, Browne personally donated US$37,000 toward the Barbuda hurricane recovery effort, while Tourism and Energy Minister Asot Michael made a donation in the amount of US$200,000.
The prime minister also encouraged business owners and the international community to contribute to the rebuilding of Barbuda.
Registered as a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 185 mph and heavy rain, Irma destroyed over 90 percent of the island, according to Browne.
Around 1,800 Barbudans were evacuated from Barbuda after Hurricane Irma devastated the island.