Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit recently returned from a conference in Trinidad where Chinese President Xi Jinping met with eight Caribbean leaders in trade talks on Sunday.
The Prime Minister noted that the Caribbean’s continued partnership with China over the years has not been overlooked by the Chinese institutions or the Chinese President himself; as his visit to the Caribbean was singled out before several other world powers.
Prime Minister Skerrit told GIS news on Wednesday that his discussions with President Jinping were fruitful – He informed that the Asian President has decided to increase by ten, the number of scholarships provided to Dominican students to pursue studies in China.
“The scholarships which have been offered by China are being heavily subscribed to by Dominican students. [Therefore], there is going to be an increase in the number of scholarships offered to Dominica every year,” the Prime Minister reported.
Hon. Skerrit also mentioned that the Chinese President has approved funding for a list of projects which he had submitted to the Chinese embassy – projects which he assured will benefit every single constituency.
The Prime Minister stated that Government “had made an obligation to China sometime late last year for the provision of funds to implement several community-based projects including housing, village roads and community centres.”
He says, “We are hoping that by the next few weeks or so the funds will be made available to Government to implement those projects.”
The Chinese President also announced during Sunday’s meeting China’s decision to allocate three billion US dollars to nine Caribbean countries in the form of concessionary financing of two percent interest rates and a grace period of five years.
“This is the closest one can get to grant funding,” says Hon. Skerrit, “and it is particularly interesting because irrespective of how vast one’s economy is [or] how much natural resources [one has], every single country in the world including the Caribbean is going through its own challenges.”
The Prime Minister describes this as welcomed news by all Caribbean leaders.
Dominica’s Prime Minister says his Government will seek funding through this allocation for repairs to roads on the eastern part of the country.
“We have to address once and for all the situation confronting the east coast,” he explained, “from Pond Casse’s roundabout to the Carib Territory, Castle Bruce, Atkinson, Petite Soufriere, The junction at Emerald Pool La Plaine, Delices, Petite Savanne and Dubique. “
Hon. Skerrit admits that he is quite satisfied that Government will apply for a loan to attend to those roads in a broad and systematic way.
The visit by the Chinese President to the region comes just months after taking up leadership of the Asian country and was the first stop in a four nation tour which includes the United States and Mexico.