by Linda Straker
- China Export and Import concessional loan valued US$67 million
- Chinese Yuan official currency component of Government’s external portfolio
Government has commenced drawing down money from the China Export and Import US$67 million concessional loan that is to be used for the upgrading of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA). At the same time, the Chinese Yuan (CNY) was officially made a currency component of the Government’s external portfolio.
“For the first time, the Chinese Yuan (CNY) is a currency component of GoG’s external portfolio (2.8%) as a loan from the Republic of China was partially disbursed in the first quarter of 2021 for the St George’s Airport Runway and Road Upgrade and Rehabilitation Project,” said the first quarter public bulletin which is published on the Ministry of Finance website. The bulletin did not provide the amount of money that was disbursed.
“Irrespective, the United States Dollars remained the dominant currency contributing 66.0% of the external portfolio. It was followed by instruments contracted in Special Drawing Rights,” the bulletin explained.
Announced in 2018, the signing and ceremonial launch of the project was done in the last quarter of 2020. The project was described by the Chinese officials at the sod-turning ceremony in October 2020 as another milestone for bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative. The Belt and Road initiative is a strategy initiated by the People’s Republic of China that seeks to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks with the aim of improving regional integration, increasing trade, and stimulating economic growth.
Work to be done at the airport includes: Resurfacing of the existing Runway and pavement of Runway Shoulders; Construction of an aircraft Turning Bay, Apron and Taxiway expansion; Upgrading of the Airfield Lighting System; Construction of 2-way apron service lane; installation of 2 Passenger Boarding Bridges and all relating Pier Works; Remodelling the airside arrival area to accommodate the 2 Passenger Boarding Bridges and the installation of elevators, escalators and/or stairs; Remodelling of the forecourt roads outside the terminal, and construction of the Emergency Office Centre.
Besides the loan from China, Grenada is set to benefit from a regional World Bank project which seeks to “enhance regional connectivity by improving the safety of air transport and the resilience of airport infrastructure to natural disasters.” The World Bank in May 2020 disclosed that the International Development Association financing of US$17 million has been approved for Grenada.
The Grenada project, according to a World Bank press release, “will support increased safety and efficiency of airport operations and navigation, make climate resilience improvements, and strengthen the country’s capacity in civil aviation and airport management. This includes installation of air navigation and safety equipment at the main international airport, construction of a runway end safety area, and a resilient air cargo facility, and preparation of an aviation sector strategic plan.”