There’s just over EC$200.00 left in an airport development fund, which, two years ago, according to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, had almost 150 million dollars.
Skerrit made that disclosure in response to a question posed by the leader of the Opposition Lennox Linton last week during the First Session of the Tenth Parliament on Monday.
Linton asked the Prime Minister to provide the House with the schedule for disbursement payments, if any, from the airport development account since may 2017 and the balance on that account as at September 30th, 2020.
In response, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Roosevelt Skerrit, disclosed that on June 29th 2017, the government of Dominica established a fund at the National Bank of Dominica (NBD) to facilitate monthly deposits of US 5 million dollars or EC13 million from the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) revenues, to finance the construction of the international airport.
According to the prime minister, “With our monthly savings, the balance in that fund as of June 30th 2018 was EC 149 million, four hundred and twenty-nine thousand five hundred dollars. The balance in that fund as of September 30th 2020 was two hundred and thirty nine dollars and sixty nine cents.”
He said that the Government of Dominica subsequently received a pledge of support for the construction of the international airport from the Government of the People’s Republic of China, and therefore, proceeded to diversify the use of most of the funds to respond to national needs emanating from the destruction of Hurricane Maria.
“These included construction of homes and repairs of homes and as you know, Mr. Speaker, many people did not have insurance, and some were underinsured and received less than what they would have expected from the insurance companies and therefore, they all required government support,” Skerrit said.
He said additional funds were used for the restoration and rehabilitation of roads, river dredging and repairs to government buildings.
Support was also provided to several private sector businesses who were in dire need of financial assistance after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, .
The Prime Minister also revealed that monies from that fund were used to pay for the feasibility studies and initial design of the international airport which were conducted by a reputable United States firm as well as to pay the farmers for crop compensation and payment for some of the lands acquired to facilitate the construction of the international airport.
Recently, Skerrit announced that the Government had completed the necessary surveys and Cabinet had approved the acquisition of 213 properties required for the airport construction, of which 47 are farms.
“The total market value of these properties is estimated at 50.7 million dollars. Negotiations have been completed with 25 property owners. Geotechnical surveys were also expected to commence by September, 2020,” the Prime Minister stated.