No formal proposal yet –says Greenidge on OIC funding of Guyana/Suriname bridge
Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge
Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge

WHILE Suriname has been in talks with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for funding the construction of a bridge across the Corentyne River that would link Guyana to Suriname, Guyana is yet to receive a formal proposal.Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge told reporters on Wednesday that as far as he is aware, the OIC does not fund capital projects but the Islamic Development Bank, which is part of the wider group of the OIC, does.
“I have not seen a proposal to fund a bridge, but they have invited us and the Ministry of Finance has been speaking to them about funding things in which we have an interest, a range of projects,” Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Greenidge also said he is aware that the Suriname Government has received an offer from the bank to fund construction of the bridge.
“… and I believe that they signed an agreement for a loan… that discussion has taken place,” said Greenidge, who disclosed that Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse had mentioned the loan to Guyanese officials recently.
On Thursday, Minister of State Joseph Harmon told reporters that while information relative to the OIC funding construction of a bridge across the Corentyne River is indeed coming from the Surinamese end, “We believe that the destinies of the people of this continent are linked and therefore rivers should not be considered as separating people, but every effort we can make to bridge or join the continent is important.”
He reminded reporters that President David Granger has been speaking about the forest coverage within the Guiana Shield and noted the combined effect of the forest coverage between Suriname and Guyana and what it does for the world’s eco system.
“It would seem to me an appropriate step to ensure that we bridge our rivers rather than making them boundaries. This of course, would have to do with several issues which we’d have to clarify with the other side.”

Minister Harmon reminded reporters that the proposal for a bridge across the Corentyne River is not new.
Under the former People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Administration efforts were made to seek funding from China for construction of the bridge.
“We had asked for some information on it which was a closely guarded secret. I think the issue at that time was the funding for it, so the information that now surfaces about the OIC having an interest in it, is something of course which would have to come to us, we would have to discuss it,” he said.
On Wednesday Caribbean News Now contributor Ray Chickrie reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Suriname has announced that the OIC is willing to finance the construction of a bridge across the Corentyne River.
The announcement by the Surinamese Government followed a visit of the Secretary-General of the OIC, Iyad Ameen Madani and team to both Guyana and Suriname last week.
Once on stream, the project is expected to enhance regional integration and economic development within the Union of South American States (UNASUR).
Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Niermala Badrising said the OIC and its financial arm the Islamic Development Bank, are in favour of the execution of major infrastructural projects in South America, one of which is the bridge linking Guyana and Suriname.
Badrising in a statement said the bridge “Could become a reality if the countries involved are in agreement and if the project is feasible. It is one of the opportunities that we have to utilise OIC funds, and the project will complement UNASUR’s regional integration vision.”
While in Suriname, Madani told reporters that “We are not a religious organisation, and the OIC hails Suriname as an example of a multicultural country where different ethnicities and religions peacefully coexist.”
He said too that the OIC has no interest in that country’s internal affairs, Caribbean News Now reported.
“Suriname and Guyana’s membership in the group should be used to its fullest so as to contribute to regional integration and economic development,” he was reported as saying.
Meanwhile, President Desi Bouterse on Friday defended Suriname’s relationship with the OIC and the IsDB and urged Suriname to take advantage of the US$1.8 billion soft loan from the bank.
The Islamic Development Bank has financed many projects globally in the areas of infrastructure, human development, renewable energy, urban development, agriculture, health care and education.
It has a membership of 57 countries. Guyana became the 57th member and the second CARICOM member of the bank earlier this year.
Guyana has said that with its membership, the bank will allow the country to obtain alternative financing to highly concessional resources, including interest-free loans.
The IDB was established in 1973 with the purpose of fostering economic development and social progress in member countries and Muslim communities.


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