CASTRIES – Taiwan is providing a US$5.3 million grant to St Lucia to help stimulating job creation and other forms of economic activity in communities across the island.
The funds are being provided under the Constituency Development Programme (CDP), and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said there plans to expand the CDP to incorporate Village Tourism due to the linkages it creates making it possible for more people to become involved in the project.
Chastanet said the two countries have had extensive dialogue on broadening relations and strategic alliances, especially as it relates to trade.
“St Lucia has benefitted enormously over the years from the relationship and it is difficult to go anywhere in St Lucia today and not see the footprint of this programme in terms of the sidewalks, sporting facilities.
“We all owe your country a debt of gratitude for what we have been able to achieve over the years,” said Prime Minister Chastanet, adding “we have looked at the relationship with Taiwan, as well as reviewed the programmes that we had with a critical eye on how we can improve them.
“We have been receiving 10 million (dollars) a year in grants and we need to ask ourselves, whether in fact we have been spending those funds in the right way. The continuation of the community development projects has to be a core part of what we are doing but we also think that we need to consolidate some of the funds into some bigger projects.”
St Lucia is among a handful of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries with diplomatic relations with Taiwan that China considers a renegade province.
Taiwan Ambassador to St Lucia, Douglas Cheng-Tsung Shen told the ceremony that for the last 10 years this programme has completed more than 1500 projects in this country and the communities and it creates more than 20 000 jobs for St Lucians.
“I believe under the leadership of your Prime Minister, your good government will use the best way to create more jobs to complete more projects in the local communities.” he said, expressing the desire that the relations between the two countries would get “stronger and greater.”
The CDP has for years focused on social and economic programs aimed at stimulating economic growth. With the receipt of this allocation. The government says it will embark on the execution of more projects geared at enhancing and improving the way of life for constituents. (CMC)