By Orville Williams
The government is optimistic about a prospective $50 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), following “fruitful” discussions between officials with the bank and Finance Minister, Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
Last week, it was disclosed that Browne would be meeting with the CDB’s president to discuss the loan, as well as issues surrounding LIAT and the debts owed by its regional stakeholder governments.
The loan was arguably the bigger issue on the table, given the economic stagnation over the past year and the slow pace of a much-touted economic rebound.
According to Information Minister Melford Nicholas, the meeting between the PM and the CDB officials was positive and they are hopeful of a similarly positive outcome when they hear from the bank in the near future.
“The discussion that the Prime Minister had with the President and Vice President [of the bank] were indeed very fruitful, and not to say the least, cordial.
“I think both gentlemen left Antigua with the understanding, and they gave the [PM] the assurance that later this month, the board will meet and consider the position of Antigua. So, we are awaiting the results of those deliberations.
“I don’t think that meeting has taken place yet, [but will] likely come closer to the end of the month, if not next week,” Nicholas said.
The relationship between the government and the CDB appears rather amicable, with the bank as recently as last year approving multi-million-dollar “emergency loans” to countries including Antigua and Barbuda.
Meanwhile, the government is keeping its options open in regard to securing financial assistance, having had preliminary talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a possible arrangement that ‘would have to be tailored to fit the country’s fiscal capacity.’