In 2018 the Lethem airstrip in Region Nine will be upgraded into a regional hub and international aerodrome after which it will receive flights originating from Brazil and other Latin American countries.
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan announced this project as part of Budget 2018: The Journey to the Good Life Continues. He explained that $250 million has been set aside to improve airstrips and aerodromes across the country, of which $140 million will be used to commence the rehabilitation of airstrips at Bemichi and Kamana.
“Another 12 airstrips across the hinterland regions will be rehabilitated at a cost of $110.3 million,” Jordan noted explaining that government is also in negotiation with a multilateral donor to secure a US$15 million loan, to finance the project for further aerodrome and airstrip development across the hinterland.
The area will also see further development of its business registration hub and the launching of a feasibility study and detailed designs for the first phase of the Linden-Lethem road.
According to Jordan additional support to micro and small businesses will be delivered, in 2018, through the creation of business incubators and accelerators, in Regions 5 and 9, at a cost of $36 million.
These structures will foster the growth of businesses by facilitating the provision of support services, such as business registration, documentation, and capacity building while the establishment of business registration hubs, like the one opened in Lethem (Region 9) this year, and the upcoming one in Mahdia (Region 8), will continue to improve the ease of doing business.
“In 2018, four other business registration hubs will be established in Regions 1, 5, 6 and 10,” the Minister told the House on Monday. Additionally works on the Lethem Industrial Estate and the Belvedere Industrial Estate will continue into the New Year. An allocation of $350 million has been made for the completion of work on these estates which are expected to have a combined capacity of about 250 to facilitate value-added production, while benefiting from economies of scale.
Concurrently the feasibility studies and detailed designs for the first phase of the Linden-Lethem road, covering the section from Linden to Mabura Hill will be launched.
The Minister stated that the development of the Georgetown-Lethem gateway requires careful assessment and due diligence. Once completed this road is expected to improve access to hinterland communities and Northern Brazil; while opening new economic opportunities along the corridor.
“I am pleased to indicate that external funding is available to scope out and develop key social and economic opportunities for residents along this corridor. The use of these funds is specifically targeted to establishing the groundwork to map out and implement complementary social and economic development initiatives around the project, and to assist in financing the implementation of selected strategic, small-scaled economic activities,” Jordan said adding that similar studies will be conducted on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway and the Linden-Ituni-Kwakwani Corridor.
These are expected to provide significant entre to the Intermediate Savannahs and create access to the upper reaches of the Berbice River, thereby enhancing the agricultural potential of Kwakwani, Ebini and Kimbia.