??Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler (right) and Resident Representative of the Inter American Development Bank, Joel Branski exchange documents following the signing of a US$70 million Sustainable Energy Programme at Government Headquarters. (G. Brewster)

Barbados is continuing to bolster its sustainable energy programme and this was signaled today with the ???soft’ signing of a loan agreement for US $70 million with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The formal signing will take place in two weeks.

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Chris Sinckler, initialed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Barbados, while the IDB’s Resident Representative,?? Joel Branski signed on behalf of the Bank. The ceremony took place at Government Headquarters.

Prior to the signing, Mr. Sinckler explained that Barbados was working on implementing its sustainable energy and energy efficiency programme and added that "this particular loan which we are about to sign with the Inter-American Bank, what we call PPL2 follows on from the first policy-based loan which was disbursed in the latter half of last year."

He described the partnership that was forged with the IDB as "not only strategic" but "timely and critical," and said it was one of the major regional developmental institutions in the world, … with US $200 million in projects currently on stream in Barbados, and represented one of the largest portfolios that the Bank had under contract," he disclosed.

He attested that this represented a vote of confidence in Barbados’ economy and in Barbados’ future. "It is the centerpiece of that collaboration that we have been able to move as far as we have in the last couple of years," he noted.

Mr. Sinckler pointed out that the loan agreement was designed to assist with the building of government’s programme for alternative energy and the alternative energy sector, "as we seek to coalesce the stakeholders’, interests policies and pieces of legislation for an effective energy future for Barbados".

He explained that a sustainable energy framework was necessary because Barbados was suffering the terrible effects of extremely high oil prices and from the impact of these prices both on the productive sectors on households but as well as on the balance of payments on the external accounts.

Mr. Sinckler further noted that such external factors as the volatility of the nature of the futures market, the fluctuation of prices and the impact which this had on policy makers and economic planners as to how to conduct their business futuristically because of that uncertainty, were also factors that were affecting the local market.

Against this background, the Finance Minister said it was the determination from as early as 2008 to fashion an integrated programme for energy sustainability and energy efficiency over the short to medium-term as key aspects of government’s?? overall development policy. He underlined that they were also key aspects of the financial and economic policy in terms of "our macro economic response to the recession and the recessionary conditions which we have experienced in the last two years."

"Now going forward … as we seek to build out capacity in the alternative sector to allow people in the productive sectors… to be able to be more competitive in the marketplace, it is going to be absolutely critical for us to be able to produce and have for sale adequate levels of sustainable energy," Mr. Sinckler pointed out.

The Finance Minister thanked the Inter-American Development Bank and its staff for the funding and technical assistance they had provided over the years and said the exercise had been exemplary and had allowed Barbados "to forge ahead as far as possible" and also to open up new horizons for success going forward".

The IDB’s Resident Representative, Joel Branski said it was an honour and privilege to develop policies that would support renewable energy and to support other sources of energy and stated that renewable energy was a very important sector.

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