Government wants to embark on a massive social programme targeting vulnerable people and homes and Prime Minister Mia Mottley has asked a funding agency of the world’s oil producers to finance it.
The project is to convert more than a thousand pit latrines to water toilets, rebuild at least 500 vulnerable homes and provide education, training and job opportunities to poor families.
And the would-be development partner, part of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has signalled its willingness to accept a proposal to lend money for the project.
The Prime Minister revealed the plan during a “recent” courtesy call with a senior official of the OPEC Fund for International Development in the Committee Room of the Parliament buildings, a Government statement said.
The fund’s Senior Operations Officer from the Department of Public Sector Operations Arij Senussi and Assistant for the Caribbean Area Nelson Louison also met with Minister of Economic Affairs and Investment Marsha Caddle, Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Alies Jordan and Consultant to the Prime Minister Juanita Thorington-Powlett.
Mottley suggested the project was critical to stabilising a. “vulnerable population”, stressing that it was “small things” that often made a fundamental difference in people’s lives.
She said: “We are trying to raise a grant and very low interest funding because no one in the 21st Century should have to go to a pit toilet to relieve themselves, but we still have between 4,000 and 5,000 on the island.”
Barbados, she declared, could not go forward into the third decade with “unbalanced development”.
Senussi told the Prime Minister and her team of the Opec Fund’s experience in executing similar project in Belize. Such projects could span from civil works to the psychological needs of a child and other related areas, she added.
Suggesting that the project could be “tailor-made” to suit Barbados’ needs, Senussi said the next step would be to create a project profile and design the concept.
The OPEC Fund official explained that the cost of the plan would determine the loan amount. She also advised Government to put together a concept with the cost estimation financing request, along with supporting documents.
“We will make a determination from there,” Sennusi said, noting it could be done in phases.
The officials also discussed projects to strengthen roofs and build disaster resilience with new water mains and moving overhead electric cables underground, as well as stabilising the geologically unstable Scotland District.