Antigua and Barbuda: Terms and conditions of World Bank Reconstruction Loan not in the island’s best interest

Source:  TeleSUR
October 18 2017

antigua says world bank loan too strenuousAccording 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.

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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.

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“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.

Antigua and Barbuda PM Thanks Venezuela for Irma Aid

Gaston Browne Antigua 2cPrime Minister Gaston Browne said Venezuela has “gone above the call of duty.”

Source:  TeleSUR
September 11 2017

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne has thanked Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for his “timely intervention” during Hurricane Irma.

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In an exclusive interview with teleSUR, Browne said that “If it wasn’t for the availability of the military aircraft from Venezuelan we would not have been able to evacuate the Barbudans” ahead of Hurricane Jose.

Around 1,800 Barbudans were evacuated from Barbuda after Hurricane Irma devastated the island.

Browne told teleSUR the hurricane had left Barbuda “a mangled wreck” that is “totally uninhabitable.”

The prime minister warned that it may take years for the island to recover from the devastation.

Reconstruction cost

Earlier this morning, Prime Minister Gaston Browne told Parliament that reconstruction will cost US$200 million — nearly double the initial estimate made immediately after his tour of the island after Irma struck.

“We need to have all hands on deck. The enormity of the damage is such that it will cost us, at least, based on one report that I’ve seen, or one assessment, in excess of US$200 million to rebuild Barbuda,” he said.

teleSUR correspondent Francesca Emanuele, who attended the session, said the prime minister promised to raise US$50 million in the next 30 days to fast-track the much-needed recovery efforts.

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200 homes in six months

Prime Minister Browne also promised to build 200 homes in six months.

The prime minister told Parliament that because Barbuda is now considered a high-income earner they are blocked from accessing international development loans, grants and emergency funding — a situation that has complicated recovery efforts.

The prime minister added that help from any and everywhere was absolutely necessary.

“Already, there is one individual who has actually pledged US$1 million. And I expect every single resident, or homeowner on Jumby Bay, to make a contribution to that relief fund.”

Jumby Bay

Jumby Bay is an extremely wealthy residential area in Antigua, populated by movie stars and high-income earners from around the world.

Prime Minister Browne said they have already activated funding from the Caribbean Catastrophic Insurance fund and are expected to receive US$7 million from it.

He has asked that they advance US$3 million from the fund immediately, which should be received in 48 hours. Browne wants to raise US$10 million in seven days to charter a ship to bring the equipment needed to begin repairs to Barbuda’s electrical as soon as possible.

Cuba Dispatches Over 750 Medics to Crisis-Plagued Caribbean

Source:  TeleSUR
September 9 2017

hurricane irma in haiti.jpgDebris washes up on a beach in Cap-Haitien, Haiti as
Hurricane Irma approaches. | Photo: AFP

Responding to the most powerful hurricane to hit the Caribbean in decades, Cuban medical brigades have taken action to assist in recovery efforts.

More than 750 Cuban physicians have been dispatched to several Caribbean islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s destruction.

RELATED: Cuba Leads the Way in Hurricane Irma Preparedness

They will maintain daily communication with Havana in order to stay informed about unfolding events, said Dr. Regla Angulo Pardo, director of Cuba’s Central Unit of Medical Cooperation.

Facing the most power hurricane to hover across the Caribbean in decades, “measures have been taken to preserve the lives of our 771 employees, and logistic assurances have been implemented,” the official said.

She noted that Cuba has sent medical brigades to six of the countries in the subregion that, in recent days, have been or will be in the the tropical storm’s orbit. Those islands include Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Bahamas, Dominica and Haiti.

In Haiti, heavy rains forced nine of 23 total collaborators to evacuate their locations. However, the remaining medical staff are assisting local health authorities and serving residents.

Guidelines provided by Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health, MINSAP, and corresponding embassies located on each island have kept members of the medical brigade safe and sound. The preparation has enabled staff to participate in subsequent recovery efforts.

“Collaboration with the Central Medical Cooperation Unit, together with the MINSAP Management Center and our embassies, have maintained communication to assess the damage and gauge what help our own collaborators can provide,” Pardo added.

She emphasized that in Antigua and Barbuda, particularly in the latter island due to the hurricane’s destruction of most of the infrastructure as well as 95 percent of homes, Cuba’s 43 physicians weathered the storm unscathed and have joined recovery efforts.

Antigua and Barbuda Inaugurates Oil Yard With Venezuela Help

Source:  TeleSUR
September 1 2017

antigua improves energy infrastructure.jpgAn oil tank is seen at PDVSA’s Jose Antonio Anzoategui industrial complex in
the state of Anzoategui. | Photo: Reuters

The oil tank yard was constructed with help from Venezuela’s state-owned PDVSA and a Chinese company.

The West Indies Oil Company Limited, WIOC, has inaugurated a new oil tank yard in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, improving the country’s energy infrastructure.

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Roughly 51 percent of the project is owned by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, while 25 percent is owned by Venezuela’s state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, PDVSA, and another 24 percent is owned by a Chinese company.

Gaston Browne Antigua 2c.jpgThe yard, which features three new tanks, was inaugurated in the presence of Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Petrocaribe President Raul la Causi. Petrocaribe, launched in 2005 with help from former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, promotes oil-centered economic cooperation between the South American country and Caribbean nations.

The three tanks will produce an increase of 400,000 barrels in the country’s fuel storage power. Overall, they are expected to increase the supply of fuels for the Caribbean region as a whole while reducing costs.

Browne thanked Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for cooperation and solidarity with the Caribbean, especially with his country.

He also said that he advocates that countries should respect the principle of self-determination and sovereignty, referring to the sanctions imposed by the United States on Venezuela last month.

Antigua & Barbuda Warn Against Threats to Venezuela – ‘Libya and Iraq Are Lessons’

Source:  TeleSUR
August 25, 2017

antigua says no to interference in venezuela.pngSeveral countries have commissioned statements in defense of the South American nation’s sovereignty. | Photo: Reuters

Gaston Browne Antigua 2.jpgAntigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne says countries should be allowed to work out their domestic problems.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has criticized efforts against Venezuela’s government, urging nations to avoid interfering in the South American country’s internal affairs.

RELATED: Venezuela’s Maduro Speaks on Chavez, Trump and Opposition

Following recent threats made by U.S. President Donald Trump against Venezuela, Browne recalled the consequences of foreign intervention.

“It is easy to interfere and intervene, but it is most difficult to restore post-intervention peace and stability,” the prime minister said.

“The instability in Libya and Iraq are lessons from which we should learn.”

Venezuelans should “determine their destiny and decide who govern their affairs.”

Having long defended dialogue between diverse sectors of Venezuelan society, Browne said Venezuelans should “determine their destiny and decide who govern their affairs.”

“Countries should be allowed to work out their domestic problems, especially where they do not pose a threat to global and hemispheric peace and tranquility,” Browne said.

“We should resist the urges of intervention and interference in the name of democracy and respect the sovereignty and independence of all states.”

Since Trump announced that he is keeping a “military option” open against Venezuela, several countries have commissioned statements in defense of the South American nation’s sovereignty. Dozens of social movements around the world have also expressed solidarity with President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution.

Antiguans Benefit from Venezuela’s Miracle Eye Care Program

Sources: Antiguan Observer, TeleSUR
August 15 2015

The team of Venezuelan eye specialists are on the Caribbean island to attend to patients with a range of visual issues.

venezuela miracle eye care program in antiguaLess than five months after a special agreement was signed by the governments of Venezuela and Antigua and Barbuda, Antiguans are receiving free eye care from Venezuelan doctors.

1500 screened, 347 to receive surgery

Venezuelan Ambassador to Antigua Carlos Perez told local media that over 340 Antiguans have been registered to receive care and treatment after screening over 1,500 nationals earlier this year.

“Three hundred forty-seven patients qualified for surgeries for Pterygium and cataracts,” Perez said. Pterygium refers to a growth in the clear, thin tissue of the eye. He added that the Venezuelan government is pleased to add Antigua and Barbuda to the list of countries which receive assistance as part of the Miracle Eye Care Program.

“This cooperation is in the framework of the agreement that we call ‘Mission Miracle’ which is the eye care mission promoted by Venezuela. That agreement was signed during the visit of Foreign Minister Darcy Rodriguez during her last visit to Antigua at the end of March,” he added.

Six medical teams from Venezuela will visit Antigua and Barbuda

Six medical teams will visit Antigua and Barbuda to conduct surgeries over the next six weeks. While 347 patients will be seen, Perez said over 500 surgeries will be conducted, as some patients required multiple surgeries to restore their sight.

Fourteen other Caribbean countries are part of the medical mission, which has been in existence for 11 years and has restored the sight of thousands of patients across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Over 10,000 Saint Lucians have already been assisted 

The Health Ministry in Saint Lucia says the program has assisted over 10,000 Saint Lucians with vision problems.

Apart from dispatching Venezuelan eye specialists to the countries, patients also travel to Venezuela for sight-saving surgery. In July, 14 nationals of St. Vincent and the Grenadines received free eye surgery in Venezuela.

The social program is the brainchild of Venezuela and Cuba and was launched on July 8, 2014. It seeks to help low-income people with visual impairments through free, specialized medical care.

More than 3 million people have been treated under the program.

Source: Antiguans Benefit from Latest Round of Miracle Eye Care Program  TeleSUR