The National Assembly of Suriname on Thursday gave approval for the country to join the Islamic Corporation for Insurance of Investments and Export credits (ICIEC) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) by 26 votes. These two organisations are part of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), of which Suriname is a member.

The ICIEC has close working relationships with similar multilateral development institutions, particularly the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank’s Guarantees Program, the Arab Corporation for Investment Guarantee and Export Credit (Dhaman), and others.

The ITFC is an autonomous entity within the IsDB group for the purpose of advancing trade to improve the economic condition and livelihood of people in the 57-membership group. The ITFC has consolidated all trade and finance businesses that used to be handled by the various IsDB group divisions.

The ITFC is currently funding a US$60 million project in Suriname. While some opposition member questioned how the government is using loans and grants from the bank, they all agreed that accession to these institutions offers great opportunities for Suriname.

“There are opportunities upon opportunities to develop production sectors. But then we have to make the right choices. We must do our homework,” said Krishna Mathoera of the United Hindustani Party (VHP).

During the committee meeting, the Commission president, Amzad Abdoel of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), requested from the minister of finance, Gillmore Hoefdraad, an overview of the current loans of Suriname. The minister updated members of the assembly by giving an overview of loans and project history with the Islamic Bank.

“As regards to the detailed questions about loans, debt ceiling etc., a number of loans and financing models are included in the budget, we are debating this,” Hoefdraad told the assembly.

Abdoel inquired from the minister the status of “loan agreements signed; which projects are already prepared; which are in progress, and from which loan agreements are already drawn.”

A US$86 million “state of the art” hospital project was temporarily suspended due to allegations that the original plan was modified without the Islamic Bank’s approved. In 2014, Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse and the CEO of the IsDB, Mohammed Ahmed Ali Al Madani, officially launched the construction of the Academic Medical Hospital of Suriname (AMC-SU) during his first visit to Suriname. The project was envisioned to provide the highest quality medical care, top medical training and a scientific research centre for the region.

It was a dream project for Bouterse, who is adamant in seeing the hospital come to fruition. The hospital was scheduled to open in 2020. The bank has a very strong vetting and oversight of project funding that they approve, Abdoel told the National Assembly.

“The IsDB is very strict with rules, regulations and transparency, and they are a very important partner for our development. They came to our aid when we had an economic crisis. Joining the ICIEC and the ITFC will spur the private sector of Suriname. They are the main beneficiaries of the private sector,” he remarked.

“The Islamic Development Group has been helping us in the most difficult moments. They have embraced us to bring us on the road to development. Seeking the membership in these two organisations, we see natural and pragmatic move,” Hoefdraad added.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Development Bank plans to open a regional branch in Paramaribo, Suriname, which is more feasible now that neighbouring Guyana, also an Islamic Bank member, made recent mega oil discoveries and may join OPEC in the future. Guyana also is looking to join these two groups to maximize the full benefit of its Islamic Bank membership.

Source Caribbean News Now