Saint-Vincent will “borrow” the repaid loans from a Venezuelan bank | Business
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had obtained permission from Venezuela to “borrow” US$9 million that Kingstown had paid on loans owed to Alba Bank.
The money was being held in an escrow account at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, ECCB, as US sanctions imposed on Venezuela prevented its transfer to Caracas.
Prime Minister Gonsalves, who was in the South American country for medical treatment last week, said his government had obtained permission to use the money.
“We have in this account, which we have paid, whose money belongs to the Alba Bank in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela “9 million dollars and something”. And we had paid the money there because we didn’t want to have any problems with the sanctions,” he said.
“It was agreed that we can, in a sense, borrow this money that we had paid because it is in the central bank and it is not used.
Gonsalves said Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves, who joined him in Caracas, came up with the idea of asking the Nicolas Maduro-led government to allow Kingstown to use the money.
“And he put forward two proposals, which were accepted by the Alba bank,” Gonsalves said.
One of the proposals was to use US$4 million to purchase vessels for St. Vincent’s fishing industry.
“And an arrangement would be made with some fishermen to train them. These are bigger ships … at a higher level requiring other types of training and building a fleet,” Gonsalves said.
“There’s a lot of fish there, there’s a lot of conch there, there’s a lot of lobster there and we need to be able to harvest it.”
The remaining $5 million is for repairs to Little Tokyo, Kingstown’s bus station serving the east of the country.
Gonsalves said the finance minister had informed ECCB Governor Timothy Antoine of the development, but noted that documents were pending.
“It really is an amazing package of support,” he said, referring to the results of the Caracas meeting.
Gonsalves had previously said when he returned to Kingston last week that Venezuela had canceled Kingstown’s debt under the PetroCaribe oil initiative and had agreed to cancel 50% of the debt owed by other members of the Organization. Eastern Caribbean States.
Caracas has also promised Kingstown 150 prefabricated homes for people affected by the La Soufriere volcano eruptions in April 2021 and Hurricane Elsa last July, in addition to supplies of asphalt and fertilizer, Gonsalves said.