by Linda Straker
- Grenada is a CDB Borrowing Member Country
- US$4.2 million from a previous loan repurposed to procure 15,000 laptops
- End of fiscal year Government failed to meet projected target by more than EC$100 million
Grenada is one of the Borrowing Member Countries of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) that was provided with financial assistance to strengthen social resilience when the Covid-19 pandemic was declared in 2020.
The money was an emergency loan, while in one case financial allocation of an existing loan was repurposed. In some other islands, the loans were given as policy-based loans. “CDB also provided support to strengthen social resilience within its BMCs. This included US$4.2 million from a previous loan which was repurposed by the Government of Grenada to procure 15,000 laptops to improve remote learning access for primary and secondary school students,” said a recent new release from the CDB.
Similarly, almost US$310,000 from an earlier CDB loan was used to purchase laptops, projectors and cloud storage for online technical and vocational teaching in Guyana. Overall, the Caribbean Development Bank provided more than $140.2 million in financing in 2020 and secured an additional $50 million for 2021 to support its Borrowing Member Countries in mitigating the macroeconomic fallout and adverse social effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The onset of Covid in the first quarter of the year triggered a steep fall in BMC government revenues, which along with an increased demand for healthcare and social support, put social services and health systems under pressure exacerbated inequalities in education and increased the vulnerability of at-risk groups,” said the release.
Monthly fiscal reports from the Ministry of Finance have shown that the Government’s income had a reduction of 50% in the first 3 months of the Covid-10 pandemic lockdown. At the end of the fiscal year Government failed to meet its projected target by more than EC$100 million.
The recently release CDB’s Regional Report: 2020 Review and 2021 Outlook, the Bank’s President, Dr W Warren Smith said, “When the pandemic struck, CDB recognised quickly that the resulting increase in Covid-related expenditure was occurring at a time when taxes and other government revenues were also being adversely affected.”
“We were able to use resources from our concessional Special Development Fund (SDF) to provide US$66.7 million in emergency loans to 7 eligible countries. In this way these countries gained access to additional resources to meet unforeseen expenditures whilst continuing to protect the most vulnerable in their populations,” he said.
The 7 beneficiary countries were:
- Antigua and Barbuda – US$13 million
- Belize – US$15 million
- Dominica – US$2.5 million
- Grenada – US$5.9 million
- Saint Lucia – US$10.8 million
- St Vincent and the Grenadines – US$11.3 million
- Suriname – US$8.2 million
CDB also provided US$50 million in policy-based loans (PBL) for St Lucia (US$30 million) and Dominica (US$20 million) to support economic recovery and resilience building in the sectors hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, US$15 million from a PBL for The Bahamas was assigned for supplementary support for the country’s Covid-19 response.
In December 2020, CDB signed a US$50 million loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank to support Covid-19 response projects in Member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. This line of credit will finance programmes to help reduce Covid-19 transmission and fatality rates; ensure access to minimum levels of quality of life and health for vulnerable citizens and provide support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in 2021 and beyond.
Besides assisting the member states, the CDB also assisted UWI and CAERPHA. A US$200,000 grant was given to the University of the West Indies (The UWI) to purchase computing devices for disadvantaged students and a US$59,000 grant was used to procure 130 tablets for special needs students in St Lucia.
Through a collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and the Pan-American Health Organisation, CDB provided US$3 million to procure personal protective equipment for healthcare workers across 14 countries.
CDB also collaborated with the Caribbean Export Development Agency to provide a US$600,000 emergency response mechanism to assist export-oriented MSMEs to retool. Additionally, through its Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund, CDB awarded US$100,000 in grant funding to implementors of seven cultural and entertainment events that lost income from the cancellations due to the onset of Covid-19.