GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – Minister of finance Dr Ashni Singh on Monday signed two development loan agreements worth US$150 million with the Saudi Fund for Development’s (SFD) chief executive officer, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, to fund the “Infrastructural Development Works for the Housing Sector Project”, and the “Construction of Wismar Bridge Project”, through SFD.
During the signing ceremony, H.E. President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali thanked the Kingdom and People of Saudi Arabia and complimented the leadership of the Saudi Fund for Development for the efficient manner in which they were able to conclude the agreements and the ease in which they do business. He also complimented the local team led by the minister of finance, Dr Singh for the efficient way in which they were able to advance the projects.
“We are very pleased that we were able to advance the projects at such a pace”, the head of state said as he reminded that projects will not only bring temporary relief but also permanent benefit to citizens as it forms part of the larger infrastructure masterplan of the country and will help Guyana on its journey to modernization.
Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) chief executive officer, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, said:
“[Today’s] agreements mark SFD’s first presence in Guyana and the beginning of development cooperation between both our countries. The two agreements signed Monday, aim to support the housing and transportation infrastructure sectors in the country, which will lead to major benefits in health, education and the standard of living. Both of these infrastructure projects will support access to vital services, and represent an essential drive for achieving seven United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 3, Good Health and Wellbeing, SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities.”
This form of development cooperation emphasizes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to supporting Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to overcome sustainable development and climate change challenges. The agreements, furthermore, reaffirm the importance of international cooperation and solidarity to achieve sustainable development goals and foster economic and social growth, particularly in SIDS.
The first loan agreement, worth US$100 million, for the infrastructural development works for the housing sector project, aims to respond to the growing population demands by developing the infrastructure to provide about 2,500 housing units across three different regions in Guyana. Additionally, the project includes paving the main and secondary roads, establishing water, sewage and electricity networks, digging wells for each of the project areas, and constructing social facilities serving multiple benefits. It will not only address the current housing shortage and improve living conditions but also stimulate the local economy through direct and indirect job opportunities in the housing sectors.
The second loan agreement, worth US$50 million, for the construction of Wismar Bridge Project, aims to build a four-lane bridge parallel to the existing Mackenzie-Wismar Bridge, to improve road network connectivity and the flow of transportation, relieving traffic jams, and enhance road safety. The bridge will also link to the existing road network on both sides of the Demerara River, ensuring easier access to nearby public facilities such as Mackenzie Hospital, and other government facilities. While positively impacting transportation, the bridge is also expected to contribute towards social and economic development and create employment opportunities in Guyana.
These agreements are a follow-up to the May 12 last signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the finance minister on behalf of the government and the Saudi Fund for Development’s CEO regarding the Saudi Fund for Development participation in the Financing of these Development Projects.
The MOU was signed on the sidelines of the 2023 Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group’s Annual Meetings in Saudi Arabia, where Dr Singh led Guyana’s delegation.
The government of Guyana has been continuing its aggressive drive to transform the country’s landscape and this transformation is particularly visible in the area of transport infrastructure. Work has advanced on several key projects including the new US$261M High Span Bridge across the Demerara River, the US$190M Linden to Mabura Road, and a bridge across the Corentyne River.