Financial constraints occasioned by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the island of Grenada has limited the work of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Implementation.
According to portfolio minister Gregory Bowen, the decision to adjust the 2020 Budget to accommodate for the negative fiscal impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the economy has greatly affected his ministry
“The chopping in those areas has ultimately affected [the ministry] significantly,” he told journalists during this week’s virtual post-Cabinet briefing, adding that his ministry is responsible for implementing all government projects despite the ministry under which the projects fall.
However, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell recently in an address to the nation revealed that his Government had made adjustments in the budgetary allocation, though he did not specifically indicate in which areas there will be adjustments.
Bowen said that the most affected project is the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme (CARCIP), while the least affected is the Agricultural Feeder Roads project.
Commenting on CARCIP, the minister noted that the World Bank-funded project will increase access to the regional broadband network by bringing broadband connectivity to schools, community centres and government offices. It will also advance the development of an ICT enabled services industry in two other beneficiary countries — St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia.
He explained, however, that COVID-19 has affected the final release of funds.
“We had to wait to get an extra EC$3 million from the World Bank. If we had funds, we would have placed it in and now we have up to the end of December to do all the remaining things with the EC$3 million the bank gave us,” Bowen pointed out.
In addition, he disclosed that the delay was because the Grenada Government did not have funds to proceed with final outputs.
A component of CARCIP is a partnership with telecommunications provider Digicel, which will see the company spending millions to set up the fibre optic cable infrastructure that will be spread across the participating countries.
As more and more people adapt to using technology as part of adjustments to the COVID-19 pandemic, CARCIP will be critical to ensure that technology can contribute to its sustainability. The fibre optic cable installed by Digicel will provide the bandwidth for every government building.