By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname — In a major boost to the housing sector of Suriname, the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) has approved a US$35 million loan to support the shortage of affordable housing in Suriname. It is an issue that has been at the forefront of President Desi Bouterse’s campaign pledge.
The loan was approved on Monday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where the 42nd meeting of the Islamic Bank governors is being attended by the finance minister of Suriname, Gilmore Hoefdraad, and alternative governor of Suriname to the Islamic Bank, Dr Anwar Lall Mohamed.
Suriname, which is facing economic stagnation and inflation, is being assisted by the Islamic Bank and the IMF. Suriname has a long history with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the IsDB. With this new loan, the bank has provided about US$100 million of concessionary loans to Suriname.
Suriname has kept close ties with the Islamic bloc of Asian, African and Arab countries and has invested a lot of resources to broaden and accelerate ties with the Islamic Bank. Paramaribo has invited various secretaries general and officials from the OIC and the Islamic bank on visits to Suriname and has attended small and large meetings of the OIC and the Islamic Bank to ramp up diplomacy, with the objective of socio-economic development at home.
According to Mohamed, in Jeddah his delegation will work hard to push through pending projects with the bank; among others, a healthcare strengthening project; detailed design of the new academic hospital, two education projects and a cooperation agreement for 2017-2020.
The board of executive directors of the IsDB also approved financing for various infrastructure projects for five member countries of the Islamic Bank, totaling $453 million.
“Building the infrastructure of our member countries is important in order to accelerate development activities. With infrastructure development come other benefits like providing employment opportunities and reducing poverty,” said IsDB president Bandar Hajjar.
“The theme of our annual meeting is on youth economic empowerment. Infrastructure projects provide significant opportunities for our youth,” he added.