The Government is giving fisherfolks easier access to engines and boats through the Fleet Expansion Program. The program was officially launched earlier today by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation and Labour.
The program which is being done in collaboration with the Kingstown Cooperative Credit Union (KCCU) is a revolving facility of EC$1.5 million dollars. Loans will be available to existing and new entrants to the fisheries sector.
Minister of Agriculture the Hon. Saboto Caesar was eager to share all the details of this important program, which he said, “is an excellent opportunity because in St. Vincent and the Grenadines we possess a blue diamond in our blue economy and if we do not work together to advance the cause of harnessing these resources, we will not be able to build up the industry.”
Minister Caesar also noted that there are currently three boats and three engines available for purchase through the KCCU once the applicants meet the necessary requirements.
Marketing Officer at the KCCU Ruth Stowe, who was also at the launch said that her company is pleased to partner with the Ministry of Agriculture on the program, this programme, she said, will help to bolster the economic recovery of the nation that has been grappling with the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the eruptions of the La Soufriere Volcano.
Stowe indicate that, “A five-year loan term will be offered to fishers as it is the intention that when loans are repaid another batch of fishers can access the program. The continuity and success of this venture depends on our ability to apply due diligence in the underwriting of these loans and more so securing an unwavering commitment by the fishers to manage their affairs prudently. We all have a part to play in ensuring the success of this initiative.”
In addition to the financial input by the Government, the Government of Venezuela will also contribute USD$4 Million to the Fleet Expansion Program Facility to further expand the program’s scope and reach.