The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has expressed gratitude to the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, after the government of the South American nation granted this country $81 million of debt forgiveness.

In presenting the 2018 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure in Parliament yesterday, Minister of Finance Camillio Gonsalves said the debt forgiveness is for a loan that was contracted from the ALBA Bank, for the construction of the Argyle International Airport (AIA).

Minister Gonsalves said that in addition to the debt forgiveness, $7.1 million was repaid on the Lowmans Bay Phase 2 loan, thereby resulting in loans outstanding to ALBA Bank having declined by $88.1 million.

The Minister of Finance said the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are extremely grateful to the Government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for this selfless act of kindness and solidarity.

He said the debt for AIA now amounts to $320 million.

Minister Gonsalves expressed appreciation to Prime Minister and former Minister of Finance Dr. Ralph Gonsalves for negotiating for this debt relief from the government of Venezuela, and said that an additional debt relief of 100 million dollars to Petro Caribe has been agreed with Venezuela.

Meanwhile, the total public debt for St. Vincent and the Grenadines as at September 30, 2017, amounted to one billion, six hundred and eighty-five million, six hundred and forty-two thousand, five hundred and eleven dollars.

Minister of Finance Camillio Gonsalves said this figure represents a marginal increase of 0.2 percent or $3.9 million when compared with the total disbursed outstanding public debt for the comparative period in 2016.

He said the total Domestic Debt which amounted to $572.6 million as at September 30, 2017 fell by 2.2 percent or $12.6 million when compared with the domestic debt for the same period in 2016.

With regard to the External Debt, the Minister of Finance said that as at September 30, 2017, this country’s external debt amounted to $1.1 billion, an increase of $16.6 million or 1.5 percent when compared with the external debt as at September 30, 2016.

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