The Grenadian delegation (L) led by Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell in discussion with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Port of Spain, Trinidad
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — China is to give Grenada nearly EC$20 million dollars (US$8.7 million) in grant assistance, even as it considers more aid to the island.
This came as a result of bilateral discussions in Port of Spain on Sunday between Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi was on a two-day visit to Trinidad and Tobago before leaving for Costa Rica late Sunday. While there, he met with a number of Caribbean leaders in a series of bilateral meetings.
The grant assistance to Grenada is part of a multi-million dollar package of assistance that Beijing has offered to the Caribbean region.
Officials travelling with Xi said the money can be drawn down on a schedule and for purposes that Grenada will determine.
Mitchell, heading a four-man delegation, made an impassioned plea for more grant assistance from Beijing for the next three years, as the Grenada government seeks to stabilize the fiscal crisis it inherited.
Mitchell asked Beijing for US$10 million for each of the next three years in direct budgetary support.
“I add again that the cash support, this year, next year and the following year is crucial because of the situation in which we have found ourselves,” Mitchell told Xi in wrapping up his presentation.
Grenada has also presented a list of projects for consideration over the next five years — a range of things from housing to sports, agriculture, infrastructural projects and education.
In a session lasting nearly 45 minutes, Mitchell made a special plea for education assistance particularly in technological areas: “We recognize that while we are smaller than many other countries, our people want to compete in the same way as other people in the global society. To do this we must educate them and empower them with knowledge.”
He also pushed to have Chinese assistance in building the additional 500 housing units of that the previous government had given up in seeking to have the athletic stadium rebuilt.
Mitchell reminded Xi that before he left office in 2008 there was an agreement for building both the stadium and the houses, and he was not sure what transpired after that.
He urged Beijing to revisit that initial agreement that will allow for the building of the houses and the stadium.
“There was a commitment to do both, and we are confident, Mr President, that we can work together to ensure not just the rebuilding of the stadium, but the houses as well, because the housing situation is also crucial to us,” he told Xi.
Mitchell was upbeat following his meeting with Xi.
“I think we had a very positive discussion. We made our case and the president listened and promised to positively look at our presentations. Both sides have agreed on a system for follow up work,” he said.
The Chinese president also invited Mitchell to visit Beijing at his earliest convenience.
He called the Grenada leader “a true friend of the Chinese people,” noting his bold steps he took to establish relations with Beijing in 2005.