By Orville Williams
The government of the People’s Republic of China today signed grant agreements with the government of Antigua and Barbuda, worth over US$11 million, toward education and housing projects.
The housing grant, geared primarily toward the Government’s Affordable Housing project, is worth approximately US$11 million and the education grant – toward a multimedia center at the University of the West Indies, Five Islands Campus – is worth US$250,000.00. Prime Minister Gaston Browne, and Chinese Ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda, Sun Ang, signed the agreements on behalf of their respective administrations.
Prime Minister Browne expressed his gratitude to the government of the People’s Republic of China and highlighted the fact that this type of grant is not often done at that level.
“I want to take the opportunity to thank the government and people of the People’s Republic of China for yet another significant grant – in the region of about EC$30 million – this means that the amount they have programmed for housing for Antigua and Barbuda is US$120 million. That is extremely sizable, and will help us toward achieving the objective of building more climate-resilient homes for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, especially in vulnerable communities like Point.”
“Normally, governments don’t give money for that type of purpose. The fact that the People’s Republic of China has carved out an opportunity for us to provide our people with affordable, free homes, it is really to their credit that they have created that type of flexibility,” the Prime Minister stated.
Chinese Ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda, Sun Ang, expressed his pleasure in signing the agreements, insisting that they are unconditional and genuinely geared toward the development of Antigua and Barbuda.
“[It] is my honour today to have signed these two agreements on behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese Embassy, together with Honorable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. An agreement on economic and technical cooperation, the government of the People’s Republic of China will provide the government of Antigua and Barbuda with a grant of 8o million Chinese Yuan – approximately US$11 million.”
“It is an aid [basket], devoted to affordable housing and other projects that Antigua and Barbuda deems necessary, which is with no precondition whatsoever – it is a genuine gift from the 1.4 billion Chinese people, for their brothers and sisters in this country,” Ambassador Sun explained.
Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies, Five Islands Campus, Professor Stafford Griffith, also shared his delight at the grant agreement signing – recognising the positive impact that improvements to the multimedia center will have on the campus.
“This grant will enable the government of Antigua and Barbuda to continue to extend the support it has been giving to the University of the West Indies Five Islands campus, to ensure that it is an institution of excellence.”
“It will help the literary, digital and technological resources available to students and to teachers at the campus, to support teaching and learning in the various areas of specialisations which students are pursuing at that campus,” he shared.
Ambassador Sun has previously expressed that the multimedia center on the campus is expected to be complete in time for the commencement of the 2020/2021 academic year.