by Linda Straker
- 2020 Budget adjustment tremendously affected Ministry of Implementation
- Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme (CARCIP) most affected
- CARCIP–Digicel partnership will spend millions to set up fibre optic infrastructure
Infrastructure and Implementation Minister, Gregory Bowen has disclosed that the decision to adjust the 2020 Budget because of the negative fiscal impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the economy, has greatly affected his ministry.
“The adjustment in the budget has affected the Ministry of Implementation tremendously,” Bowen told journalists during the weekly post-cabinet briefing which has been happening virtually since government declared a State of Emergency in March.
“The chopping in those areas has ultimately affected us significantly.” He pointed out that his ministry is the one responsible for implementing all government projects despite the ministry under which the projects fall. Though government has not disclosed where adjustments have taken place, Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, recently informed the nation about adjustments in the budgetary allocation.
Bowen said that the most affected project is the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme (CARCIP), while the least affected is the Agricultural Feeder Roads project. He said that among other things, the project which is funded by the World Bank will increase access to the regional broadband network by bringing broadband connectivity to schools, community centres and government offices. It will also advance the development of an ICT enabled services industry in the 3 beneficiary countries including St Vincent and the Grenadines, and St Lucia. Covid-19 affected the final release of funds.
“We had to wait to get an extra EC$3 million from the World Bank. If we had funds, we would have placed it in and now we have up to the end of December to do all the remaining things with the EC$3 million the bank gave us.” Bowen pointed out that the delay was because the Grenada government did not have funds to proceed with final outputs.
A component of CARCIP is a partnership with telecommunications provider Digicel and that will see the company spending millions to set up the infrastructure in which fibre optic cable will be spread across the participating countries.
As more and more people adapt to using technology as adjustment because of Covid-19, CARCIP is seen as extremely important to ensure that technology can contribute to its sustainability. The fibre optic cable installed by Digicel will provide the bandwidth for every government building.