European Investment Bank signals interest in deepwater harbour project

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After a 10-year bilateral hiatus, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has expressed interests in reviving relations with Guyana and is willing to inject some ‘big bucks’ into developing a deepwater harbour here.

EIB Vice President Pim van Ballekom (centre) along with Angel Diez Fraile (right) and EU Ambassador, Jernej Videtiĉ
EIB Vice President Pim van Ballekom (centre) along with Angel Diez Fraile (right) and EU Ambassador, Jernej Videtiĉ

This was disclosed by EIB Vice President responsible for lending in the Caribbean, Pim Van Ballekom, who led a high-level delegation from the bank.

Briefing the media on the its visit, Ballekom noted that during his talks with Government and the private sector, the possible investment in the rehabilitation of the harbour was discussed at length.

He explained that this move is part of a much bigger investment programme to improve links between Guyana and neighbouring Brazil. However, the Vice President pointed out that it would be more practical to embrace those projects separately, beginning with the deepwater harbour.

Ballekom said it is more a matter of preparing the infrastructure for the more expansive project: “I was told that without a harbour, investing in the road link to Brazil is not economically viable, so we have to start somewhere and I think the harbour, as such, is any how needed due to the fact that Georgetown can receive bigger vessels for containers. I think that makes sense even without investing in the link,” the EIB executive stated.

According to the Vice President, prior to coming to Guyana he did not consider whether the project is economically feasible but having been given an insight as to what it entails, he believes it is long overdue.

He revealed that already he has met a few persons from the local private sector who are willing to invest in a deepwater harbour, mainly because of the potential it has to facilitate access for bigger container vessels. The banking executive further noted that even with Guyana’s emerging oil sector, a harbour port will be more economical for the country.

Nevertheless, Ballekom noted that they are yet to iron out the specifics of the project, that is, whether it will be a Public-Private Partnership or a loan-project. He explained that discussions were held on four separate substantial projects, and the EIB never finances a project fully, as such it will be looking to other international financial institutions, such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) perhaps, to join forces.

Meanwhile, Ballekom emphasised that the EIB is eager to re-engage Guyana, either in the private sector or the public sector or both, noting that its economic climate is welcoming.

Thus far, the delegation has held talks with President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson and Finance Minister Winston Jordan. It has also had discussions with the private sector as well as the commercial sector.

 

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