Suriname and Islamic Bank explore funding expansion
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- On Monday, a delegation from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) was in Suriname and held meetings with the minister for regional development, Stanley Betterson, and Suriname's deputy governor to the IsDB, Dr Anwar Lall Mohammed, to explore areas of further financial cooperation between the bank and Suriname in the areas of education, transportation, water, energy, community development.
The IsDB delegation comprised Walid Abdel Wahab, senior director of infrastructure, Atiq Ahmad, director of infrastructure, and transportation specialist Irfan Bukhari. It was the first meeting between the bank and the ministry of regional development of Suriname.
Betterson and the IsDB discussed possible new financing of projects between the Islamic Bank and the Regional Development office of Suriname in the areas of solar and hydro energy, and roads.
The meetings also addressed ongoing projects and concerns.
The Inland Development Fund of Suriname (FOB) has its eye on several projects in the interior, including the generation of solar energy. FOB also made the proposal that some pilot projects currently being carried out be extended to a larger area. The Surinamese government and the IsDB agreed to a loan for the execution of such projects
The ministry of regional development can tap the Islamic Bank funding through the Central Bank of Suriname.
Suriname has received US$102.8 million in financing for 12 operations since 1997. In 2013, Suriname and the IsDB agreed on a new interim member country partnership strategy, which translated into Suriname recently receiving additional loans totaling US$75.8 million for two projects in the health and education section. Suriname is now working on a broader partnership with the bank.
The agreement signed in 2013 also aimed to address some of the concerns in this relationship, such as expediting of project implementation, improving the procurement process, and improving supervision and monitoring of projects. Within this context, the unfinished project of Port Nickerie was addressed by the delegation from the Islamic Bank.
On Monday evening the Islamic Bank was due to hold a meeting with the private sector in Suriname; this is a follow up of a previous meeting between the two groups in Paramaribo last year.
According to Mohammed, besides the Islamic Bank, Suriname is closely working with the Islamic Corporation for Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and the International Islamic Trade and Finance Corporation (ITFC) to bring social and economic development to Suriname. Through these agencies, for example, he said that Malaysia is working to help modernize the rice industry of Suriname.
He said, "The Islamic Bank does not meddle in the internal affairs of Suriname. Suriname is free to work and choose what projects it wishes to peruse. We have healthcare clinics in the interior financed by the Islamic Bank and run by non-Muslims. It is an example of cooperation for the social and economic development of all the people of Suriname -- Christians, Hindus or Muslims."
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor