Grenada Foreign Affairs Minister Nickolas Steele has confirmed that the Australian Government will no longer be funding Grenada’s new Parliament building which is scheduled to commence construction later in the year.
“We have received communications from the Australian Government that they have changed their Foreign Policy with regard to funding projects and they will be pulling out of this region and instead focus on the Indian Ocean, Asia–Pacific region,” Steele said.
Australian’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop recently confirmed a series of reversals in the foreign aid commitments which the previous government made as part of its campaign to win a seat on the United Nation’s Security Council. Votes from Africa and Caribbean states helped the then Rudd government secure the seat.
According to reports out of Australia, while in opposition, Julie Bishop was a loud critic of tactics in Australia’s bid. Although Ms Bishop believed there was merit in seeking the prestigious seat, she argued that the bid put too much attention on African and Caribbean nations at the expense of engagement in the Asia-Pacific.
Steele said that the Australian Government had promised five million Australian dollars and they had already provided one million for some preliminary work. “They have not asked us to return the money because it was used in the preliminary preparations; what they are doing is not providing further funding. But I must tell you that we will continue with the construction because as you know we also received support funding of US$5 million from the United Arab Emirates and we will use that to start the project,” he said.
“I am already in discussion with other donors to ensure that we have enough to complete the new Parliament building and these discussions are ongoing,” said Steele, who is hoping that the Grenada Parliament will have a new home while the New National Party administration which won election on 19 February 2013 is governing the country.
Grenada’s Parliament building was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, since then the Parliament has adopted the Grenada Trade Centre as its temporary home.
By Linda Straker