Just over three hundred low-income families would soon take ownership of housing units that have been provided by the Government of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC).
The keys to the housing units totaling 353 that are located at Mt. Gay and Frequente, St. George’s, and at Soubise, St. Andrew’s were officially handed over last week Friday at the Mt. Gay project site by Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce, Li Jinzao who headed a Chinese delegation on a visit to St. George’s.
Speaking through an interpreter, Jinzao labelled the project as a very fine example of the productive cooperation between China and Grenada.
He described the bilateral relationship existing between the two countries as being very positive in recent years, and is optimistic the joint efforts of co-operation between Beijing and St. George’s could be strengthened.
While in Grenada, the members of the Chinese delegation engaged in bilateral talks with Finance Minister Nazim Burke and other Cabinet Ministers.
Although not going into specific details about the talks, the Chinese Vice Minister said both sides committed themselves to ensuring that the restoration of the National Athletic and Football Stadium is done properly, and to bring on stream the second phase of the low-income housing project.
“We need to make sure that these are high quality projects,” Jinzao said, adding that Beijing places great importance on the quality of projects to be undertaken.
The Chinese diplomat disclosed that other projects to be undertaken by his government in Grenada would only take place after completion of the second phase of the housing project and the restoration of the stadium.
Local officials have confirmed that the policy of China is to do only one project at a time in a country that it gives development aid assistance.
Jinzao gave assurances that Grenada will be getting a much greater and beautiful athletics and football stadium than elsewhere in the Caribbean when the project is completed.
“We look forward to Grenada winning more Gold Medals after the completion (of the stadium),” he remarked.
Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who joined the Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce in the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon said the gift of the housing units is an indication of the harmonious relationship existing between Grenada and China.
Prime Minister Thomas stated that his ruling Congress government is committed to ensuring that the housing stock in the country is adequately addressed.
He spoke of the Ministry of Housing being engaged in a number of initiatives that are geared at assisting vulnerable Grenadians.
The Grenadian Leader said he is aware that the number of applications that have been submitted for the housing units have far exceeded what is available.
He promised that his government would ensure that a very transparent selection process is undertaken in order to ensure that the units are presented to families who meet the stipulated criteria.
Prime Minister Thomas admonished those who would be the recipients of the housing units to be grateful, and to ensure that a high degree of integrity is maintained in all of the three communities.
Relations between St. George’s and Beijing were restored when the government of former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell dumped Taiwan in 2005 in favour of a more lucrative package offered by China in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.
Prime Minister Thomas reiterated his administration’s commitment to maintaining the one-China policy as advocated by the Chinese on the Mainland.
He noted that since diplomatic relations were re-established in January 2005, the technical cooperation activities between the two countries have been progressing smoothly in several areas.
The provision of the housing units would enhance the country’s housing stock, which was substantially depleted in September 2004 as a result of the onslaught of Hurricane Ivan.
This was the first phase of the housing project that has been promised by the PRC, which, in 2005, gave a commitment to provide Grenada with 2,000 housing units.
The official agreement was signed in 2009, and construction began one year later. It was completed earlier this year.