By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname – Suriname and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), an independent organization within the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) signed two agreements with the minister of finance, Gillmore Hoefdraad, and the chief executive officer, Hani Salem Sunbol, on Friday, 5 April, in Marrakech.
One is a Murabaha agreement for US$25 million. This agreement is a credit facility intended for the import of basic goods, medicines and medical consumables as well as imports for the agricultural sector.
The second agreement is a framework agreement in which Suriname and the ITFC will enter into a strategic partnership for a maximum amount of US$75 million for the next three years. The focus will be on the financing of goods, the provision of ‘Line of Finance’ to support small and medium-sized enterprises, providing technical or financial assistance and promoting trade and trade relations.
In December 2018, Suriname became the 45th member of the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC). The CEO, Osama Abdel Kaissi, said he is therefore delighted to support the public and private sector in Suriname.
Both the CEO of ITFC and ICIEC will visit Suriname this year to build stronger cooperation, according to Hoefdraad.
Dr Bandar M.H. Haijar, CEO of the Islamic Bank Group and Hoefdraad on April 4, also signed a loan agreement with the bank for the expansion of P\power generation, transmission and distribution systems in Suriname for the amount of US$41.3 million.
The project aims to guarantee steady and sufficient energy supply for Suriname.
The project was prepared by a unique joint mission in January and is being funded by three other international partners alongside IsDB. The Kuwait Funds, OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) are also funding the project.
In Marrakech, Hoefdraad also met with the director-general of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Abdulhamid Al Khalifa. OPEC will support the energy and health sectors of Suriname.
The minister signed also two donation agreements. The first donation concerns the strengthening of the Bureau for Gender Issues for US$280,000. The second donation is for the Reverse Linkage project in cooperation with the IsDB and Indonesia for technology regarding the artificial insemination of cattle. The IsDB will contribute US$280,000, while the government of Indonesia will fund US$380,000.
Hoefdraad and Hajjar also discussed the progress of ongoing projects, including education and housing, and the other Reverse Linkage projects in the field of rice with Malaysia, and air traffic control with Turkey.
The IsDB president was also invited to visit Suriname soon and Guyana will be part of that Caribbean visit.
Also, in 2020 the the IsDB gave a firm commitment to open a regional hub in Suriname.
Further support for Islamic financing in Suriname was pledged in this case to Trust Bank Amanah and also the possibility of an introduction course of Islamic Finance at the Anton de Kom University was discussed according to Hoefdraad.