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Bank drops greenhouse funding – Gov’t presses on

Ronald Smith-Berkeley

Ronald Smith-Berkeley

Minister of Natural Resources and Labour Dr Kedrick Pickering said Government should finally take full control of the greenhouses at Paraquita Bay on Tortola in the coming weeks.

He made the declaration weeks after he told the parliament’s Standing Finance Committee that a bank had changed its mind about providing funds necessary for the long delayed project to proceed.

Government was attempting to borrow $1.5 million from Deutsche Bank to help pay a debt to International Business and Trade (IBT), which is the main owner of the intellectual property rights on the greenhouses.

That prospective loan, which was approved by the House of Assembly, was to complete payment of some $1.26 million to IBT.

The Standing Finance Committee recently reported on the explanation given for the bank deciding not to make the loan available to the government.

It reported: “Dr Pickering stated that, because of the time line in executing the outstanding amount of money that they owed IBT, subsequent to approval by the House of Assembly, going back to the financing institution to get the additional funds, the financial institution had now advised that they were no longer interested in financing the project.”

“They (members of Government) were now left with trying to find the $1.5 million that was needed to finalize the outstanding payment to IBT, so they could proceed with the execution of the project,” added the Standing Finance Committee.

Subsequent to the publication of that recent report, Dr Pickering told the House of Assembly that agreements have been concluded with IBT, adding that the government will take control of the greenhouses soon.

“We are finally being able now to conclude our agreements with IBT who owned the intellectual property and the rights to the greenhouses. We could never do anything until we are finished paying them their money, and therefore we didn’t have the legal authority. We are at the end of that road now, and we have finalized everything.”

“So, in the next couple of weeks, the government will have full control over the greenhouses, in that we can fially start outfitting them and get the process moving. I am really excited about that,” added Dr Pickering.

He however did not state whether Government had found a new source for the $1.5 million loan that was being sought to complete payment to IBT.

One of the greenhouses

One of the greenhouses

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Ronald Berkeley, in the meantime, said Government will have to replace the covering currently being used on the three greenhouses at Paraquita Bay.

He said the decision was made after an assessment.

Berkeley added that the coverings would be replaced with three that were meant for greenhouses that were to be built on Virgin Gorda. He said the lifespan for each covering is four years.

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