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US $10 million soft loan, school buses from Taiwan

US $10 million soft loan, school buses from Taiwan

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St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is expected to benefit further from its relationship with the Republic of China on Taiwan.

So says Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, on his return from a recent trip to the east Asian nation, where he, along with a contingent of Vincentians, celebrated Taiwan’s 105th National Day.{{more}}

Gonsalves called in on the Shake-Up programme on WE FM on Tuesday and said from the visit, there were several important conclusions.

He said in addition to a soft loan of US$10 million (XCD$27 million), an additional sum of XCD$800,000 has been allocated for the purchase school buses to cut down on the time some students have to wait in Kingstown for transportation to go home after school.

Gonsalves stated that he had already suggested to Minister of Transportation and Works Julian Francis that second-hand 25-seater buses, costing approximately XCD$80,000 each, could be purchased.

He stated that while the transportation system which is in place is a functioning one, work still needs to be done to make it more efficient.

“The Government does not want to get into the business of running buses, but we have to do something in relation to the schoolchildren,” the Prime Minister said.

Additionally, he noted that one of the ways in which the transportation system can be improved would be to go beyond just giving concessions for 18-seater buses, but to offer concessions on the importation of 25-seater buses.

Gonsalves noted that in the coming years, there will also be an increase in the number of university scholarships offered by Republic of China on Taiwan.

He also disclosed that during discussions, the suggestion was made for Taiwanese investors to become involved in hotel construction and other tourism deliverables here in SVG.

Another idea, which the Prime Minister said had “immense possibilities,” was the suggestion to have a few of the Vincentian students who graduate from universities in Taiwan attached to firms in Taiwan for a year or two, which could possibly be followed by seed money for them to start a business.

“Then, if they have a business plan, an appetite for business… the Taiwanese Government would set up a fund… from which seed money will come for them to start their business,” Gonsalves said.

“So, there is a strengthening further of people to people relations with several of these ideas and of course, the continued strengthening of state to state relations in line with the proclaimed policy of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”(CM)

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