Government has announced that the multi-million- dollar Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue Expansion Project has been scrapped, and the funds would be otherwise utilized for other infrastructural works.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan said on Monday that the more than US$60M loan has being sitting since 2012, and Government was responsible for paying interest and commission fees on undisbursed balance.
He recalled that when the coalition Government was elected in 2015, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) had threatened to cancel the loan, but after much convincing, it was retained and has since been reformulated.
Ever since then, they have been discussing ways in which these funds could be effectively utilized. A decision was made to have US$30 million of that loan to go towards housing.
“Isn’t that a top priority in this country? So we are now devising a housing programme with the IDB, and another one too that will have innovative features,” he explained.
Jordan said the aim is to move away from having it become a ‘run of the mill’ loan, but rather one that will, in many areas to help, rebuild the homes of several poor families.
“Of the amounts that left back, we are not interested in widening any road, but what we are interested in doing is the bridges along Sheriff Street,” the Minister stated.
These include the bridges located next to the National Cultural Centre; Campbellville Secondary School, and one at the Lamaha canal.
The previous Government had been working on the project for a number of years after it became clear that the Sheriff/Mandela link was becoming too congested.
The plan was to upgrade the entire Sheriff Street to the National Cultural Centre. From the National Cultural Centre, a four-lane road, would have ran to the Banks DIH Junction, at Thirst Park.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister claimed that several bad loans inherited from the previous administration has affected Government’s allocation in the new financial cycle
Jordan said Government, thorough his ministry is now attempting to clean out the portfolio of all these dead loans, and learn from that experience in the implementation of new loans.
“So, for example, we signed five loans in February of this year in the health sector, child care. But before signing, we did the pre-conditions, whereby the time it’s ready for signing its ready for implementation.”
However, he claimed that the previous Government signed loans and then tried to meet a range of conditions for the effectiveness of loans, but he noted that at the very moment the loan is signed, it starts attracting interest. “We are trying to cut that out,” he asserted.
Jordan also revealed that sums of money will be allocated for long overdue road projects as the East Bank Berbice Road Project. While the project will cost somewhere close to $15 billion, half of that amount has been set aside in the next budget, which will be placed towards the implementation.