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Laing: Decision To Borrow Was Right

By SANCHESKA BROWN Tribune Staff Reporter sbrown@tribunemedia.net MINISTER of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing yesterday defended the government's decision to borrow more than $200 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for road works, saying it was necessary for vital infrastructure development. Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham revealed in the House of Assembly on Monday that the government will borrow an additional $65 million from the IDB to complete the already over-budget New Providence Infrastructure Improvement Project. Once issued, it will take the government's existing road project loan to $206 million. Mr Laing compared the government borrowing money for the road works to homeowners borrowing money for renovations. He said: "If you had to fix your house for the benefit of your family, and you had to borrow, you would do so - especially if you had the means and you could service your debt. The benefits of these road works will far exceed the temporary trouble. This is not money to pay a light bill or rent. This money is being borrowed for necessary infrastructure improvements. "We have the ability to borrow money from an institution of which we are a member and we have the ability to pay the money back." Mr Laing accused the opposition of "muddying the facts" while they are, in fact, to blame for the amount of money being borrowed. "What the opposition did not say was that they caused a five-year delay that caused the government to waste more than $40 million," he said. Mr Laing also said while he sympathises with those who may have lost their jobs due to the NPIIP, it is the cost that is paid for necessary development. "We have to do what is best for all, not just some. I accept some people were affected negatively but in the long term it is in the best interest of the majority. Not just with better roads, but better quality water, which is a basic human right." The government will borrow $30 million for fuel escalation, $19 million in contingencies, $14 million for variations and modifications, $9 million due to delays in project completion and $5 million in professional and engineering fees.

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