I want to applaud our Prime Minister for getting back what we lost.
Those were the words issued by Minister for Mobilisation Implementation and Transformation (MIT) Andy Williams as he announced to Parliament on Tuesday that the nearly one year old Congress Administration has been able to regain some of the lost EC$92 million in grant funding from Britain that was pledged to the former government in 2015.
“I am happy to report that our Prime Minister, leading the way was able to regain the financing for one component of the project which amounts to approximately $70 million,” the Member of Parliament for South St George told House Speaker Leo Cato.
Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell reportedly made direct approaches to the Conservative government of new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to reconsider the decision to withdraw the money that was lodged in the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for over five years and not utilised by Grenada.
The then visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged the money for Grenada on a brief visit to the island in 2015 in which he toured the Western corridor on the island in the company of several government officials.
Sources have told THE NEW TODAY that the former New National Party (NNP) government of ex-Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell was unable to come up with the designs for the two projects that were earmarked to get the funds.
One of the projects related to rehabilitation of the Western Main Road network including erecting a new bridge and the other was for the laying of pipes from Concord to the south of the island for NAWASA.
In recent meeting with supporters of NNP, Dr. Mitchell has laid blame for the loss of the funding on the new administration.
In hitting back in the meeting of the Lower House of Parliament, MP Williams took pot shot at the former regime for not being able to utilise the funds.
He said: “That is not a loan we are talking about – we are talking about a grant that was given, was taken away but we fought to get it back, given to the people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
“Mr. Speaker let me make it clear – this government here we are not in the business of losing free money. We are in the business of ensuring whatever resources (are) given to us in the correct way and you can be rest assured of that,” he added.
The MIT Minister also responded to those members of the Opposition who attempted to scoff at the government announcement on the issue of the return of some of the loss British funds.
“You got it and you lost it. Let us check performance, you got it in 2016, up to 2022 you did nothing with it. We got it back in 2023, let’s see the progress and tell me which hands are the safer hands.”
MP Williams told Parliament that it was in November 2022 that the Congress government had a meeting with UK representatives and was informed for the first time that the island had lost the funds and slammed the NNP regime for the situation.
He said: “That project was on the books since 2016. Because of the low implementation rate and because nothing was done up to last year, the UK based on their budget constraints could not proceed with the project.
“If we had a better implementation rate and the project was started they would have honoured the project and that is why we lost the project. When we came into office last year we tried our best to save it but we couldn’t because of the lack of implementation by the last administration,” he added.
Williams also accused the former NNP regime of Dr. Keith Mitchell of trying to play politics with the loss of the British funds.
Following is a release issued by the Dickon Mitchell-led government on the retention of some of the grant funding.
The Government of Grenada is pleased to confirm that the United Kingdom through its Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), by Letter dated May 16, 2023, has reconfirmed grant financing of £16,356,501, under the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UK CIF) Facility, for the implementation of the capital phase of the Southern St. George’s Water Supply Expansion Project.
Due to several factors, including significant project delays, the FCDO also expressed regret that it has been unable to secure UK CIF funding for the capital phase of the Western Road Corridor Upgrade project.
The Government of Grenada extends profound gratitude to the UK Government and the CDB for their gracious support, patience, and commitment. Importantly, the Government also takes this opportunity to refute claims that the new Administration is responsible for the loss of UK CIF Funds.
The UK Government in an earlier Letter dated November 16, 2022, advised that it was unable to confirm the UK CIF funding for the capital phase of the Southern St. George’s Water Supply Expansion Project and the Western Road Corridor Upgrade project due to a number of reasons, which include the current uncertainty in the UK, pressure on the UK aid budget and the delayed state of the projects.
The public may recall that in February 2016, the CDB signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of the United Kingdom, acting through the then Department for International Development (DFID), now FCDO, for the provision of up to £300 million by way of grant funding (UK CIF Resources) to finance economic infrastructure in FCDO’s Official Development Assistance (ODA)-eligible countries in the Caribbean (the Programme).
Grenada received a total allocation of £22.99 million to be utilised for two initiatives identified by the Government of Grenada (GOG), namely the Southern St. George’s Water Supply and Sewerage Expansion Project; and the Western Main Road Corridor Upgrade Project, with current allocations of £16.79 million and £6.2 million, respectively. Both projects were to be conducted in two phases – a technical assistance (TA) phase to inform the feasibility and designs, followed by a capital phase where the works would be undertaken.
The Programme end date for disbursements was March 31, 2024.
At the time of the November 2022 Letter, six (6) years after the approval of the funding, the two projects were yet to get off the ground.
Therefore, the delay in implementing the two projects by the previous Administration was a key factor in the near loss of roughly EC $74 million in grant funding.
In closing, the Government wishes to reiterate its sincere appreciation to the Government and People of the United Kingdom and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for the dedicated support extended to Grenada and looks forward to the timely completion of the Southern St. George’s Water Supply Expansion Project.