Prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has said that his government has always entertained the idea of building an international airport in Dominica but insisted that the island cannot borrow money to build it.
Speaking on Kairi’s Heng Program on Wednesday the prime minister revealed that experts from a Chinese firm are in Dominica to visit the proposed construction site of the facility, in Compton Point near Calibishie, and to offer advice to the government.
“So they are bringing experts to look at it and to advise us and based on the advice that we have gotten from other independent sources, whether this site is in fact appropriate for the construction of an international airport,” he said. “And once they are satisfied, based on their independent assessment by the experts, then we shall move with the design phase of the airport.”
The prime minister made it clear that the airport has to be financed through grants because Dominica is in no position to borrow money for such huge undertaking. “Anything outside of that is a fictitious project,” he said. “So our approach to financing this airport has not changed because we know for a fact that Dominica will not get a loan to build this airport; none whatsoever.”
He pointed out that if anybody says they can get loans to build an international airport in Dominica, “you have to question that source of the money, it cannot come from a legitimate bank.”
The prime minister noted that his government has already engaged ‘benefactors,’ partners and countries for financing for the project.
“Once we get the design we will know exactly and precisely how much this airport will cost and then we shall go to the benefactors who we have been speaking to for many years,” he said.
Skerrit stated that he has a draft MOU relating to the design of the airport to review and he will be taking it to cabinet next week.
The prime minister also defended his decision to a keep a US$300-million agreement with a Chinese company under wraps.
The deal includes the ‘reconstruction’ of an international airport and the building of a hotel in Roseau and a hospital.
Skerrit said he wanted to make sure everything was in place before going public.
He said he wanted the Chinese team to visit the site of the proposed international airport “and then once we get this written advice to say yes it can be done, we can prepare a conceptual drawing for your consideration, here is the draft MOU between yourselves and ourselves, and once we get to this point of signing the MOU on the international airport then we can engage the public and then say, look this is the progress we have made in respect to the international airport.”
Skerrit signed the agreement with Chinese company, ASCG on November 8 but it came to light only after the company published a release on its website on December 2, 2013.
According to ASCG, the Chinese government will provide preferential loan funds to support the projects outlined in the agreement.