Guyana gets new CA$120M loan from Canada to better serve vulnerable groups

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Guyana and Canada inked a historic CA $120 million sovereign loan agreement on Sunday, paving the way for the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security to better serve vulnerable groups locally.

The agreement was inked by Guyana’s Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and Canada’s Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen, during a ceremony held at the Canadian High Commissioner’s Bel Air residence.

Hussen is visiting Guyana for the first time and will be participating in the 46th Regional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Guyana is the first country in the Western hemisphere to benefit from the sovereign loan programme which provides loans on concessional terms to eligible countries, tailored to their needs and priorities.

And this loan, which equates to about GY$18 billion, will be used to improve social protection under the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security in the areas of digital transformation, old age pension, gender-based violence, persons living with disabilities and trafficking in persons.

In his remarks, Minister Hussen said the loan is tailored towards the needs of Guyana and will focus on mutual priorities and interest of both countries.

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh (right) and Canada’s Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen (left) signed the CAD $120M sovereign loan agreement (Photo: News Room/February 25, 2024)

“It’s about protecting the most vulnerable populations. It’s about making sure that as we grow our economies, we promote gender empowerment, and we fight gender based violence. It’s about empowering people with disabilities and enabling this to participate fully in the economy and in the society of Guyana.

“Our retirees deserve a life of dignity, of respect, after working so hard,” Hussen outlined.

The loan is not a standalone agreement; Hussen said it signals the “next level of collaboration” between Guyana and Canada.

Canadian High Commissioner Mark Berman, in his remarks, said the agreement is just the “tip of the iceberg.”

“Today’s ceremony is symbolic of the partnership between Canada and Guyana and it highlights the loan agreement that supports Guyana’s efforts towards strengthening social services for its citizens, in particular the most vulnerable.

“It is one that involves a significant amount of hard work, long hours, significant collaboration and compromise by all teams from the Government of Canada, the Government of Guyana and the Inter-American Development Bank,” the Canadian High Commissioner said.

Guyana’s Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh said the signing represents yet another instalment in the longstanding and special relationship that exists between the two countries.

“Guyana is particularly proud of the fact that we are the third country in the world to have concluded a sovereign loan programme with Canada,” he said.

And as Guyana goes through a period of rapid economic growth and transformation, Dr Singh noted that the country remains “ever mindful” of the need to support vulnerable groups.

In this regard, Dr Singh said the sovereign loan programme which intermediates through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), makes a “substantial” contribution.

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