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Gov't to tap CDB to fund rural water projects - Holness

Published:Sunday | January 20, 2019 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has signalled his administration's intention of tapping the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for competitive loan offerings to expand the country's creaking water-supply system.

"Just recently, president of the CDB, Warren Smith, informed me that there are funds at that bank - very low-cost funds - which are available for use ... . I said to him that we will use it for water," Holness said, while speaking at Lititz Primary School in St Elizabeth last week.

The prime minister, who gave little detail about when the Government intends to access the funds and at what interest rates, said the money would be invested in irrigation and to improve rural water supply.

Holness asserted that "water is a critical part of the economic growth equation" for his administration.

In the meantime, the president of the CDB argued that greater investment in the country's water-supply infrastructure could boost economic and social development through agriculture.

According to Smith, investment in irrigation and water would help to tackle some of the major problems and key development issues in the country through agriculture.

"For example, lack of food security, water scarcity, climate vulnerability, inefficient production practices, and weak sectoral linkage.

"These deficiencies contribute to an unnecessary food import bill now approaching approximately US$1 billion per annum," Smith said, insisting that agriculture could be a "game changer" for the Jamaican economy.