A $48 million deal to finance the building of the second cruise pier at Port Zante has been inked following a loan signing ceremony earlier this week.

The deal will have four home-grown companies finance the construction that is expected to last 18 months.

The organizations committed to financing the project include the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank (SKNANB) with US$34 million, the St. Kitts and Nevis Social Security Board pledging US$7 million, the St. Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) who will loan US$5 million and the TDC which has committed another US$2 million.

Speaking at the historic ceremony Minister of Public Infrastructure the Hon. Ian ‘Patches’ Liburd said that the new addition on Port Zante will result in the Federation being able to accommodate three Oasis class vessels at the same time.

“In approximately 18 months, the Port Zante Harbour will be transformed with the addition of the much needed second cruise pier to accommodate our growing passenger traffic, which is now heading towards 1.5 million passengers per annum,” he said.

Liburd said that the Federation should be proud of this initiative indicating that it will assist in the expansion of the local tourism product.

As he explained it, “We are positioning St. Kitts and Nevis as a destination which can accommodate the growing sizes of cruise ship vessels being constructed. We can continue to boast on our ability to receive the largest cruise ship vessels in the world. Few countries can boast of this and we as a people of St. Kitts and Nevis should be proud.”

Liburd added that the journey to obtain the financing was lengthy, as they sought to ensure the process was transparent and accountable. “In a true spirit of transparency and accountability your Team Unity Administration is letting you know precisely what financial arrangements we have put in place for the construction of the much improved and much needed second cruise pier.”

The Minister of Government also highlighted the the role a strong cruise tourism plays in the Federation.

“Cruise tourism and tourism generally are of economic importance to the development of the Federation. It provides employment and education opportunities, increases quality of life, improvements in infrastructure and promotes development and economic growth.”

He continued, “Construction of the second cruise pier will positively impact the Grass Root Economy in particular as passenger expenditure will have a cascading effect on the economy which begins with tourists spending money with taxi drivers, hair-braiders, craft vendors and restaurants, which then permeates throughout the rest of the economy.”

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris stated that the ceremony symbolises “the opening of doors”.

“To have official sign off of the financing documents of the second cruise pier that truly opens the doors of St. Kitts and Nevis to the rest of the world.”

He then congratulated the Minister of Public Infrastructure on what he call this important delivery and stated that it highlights the substance of the government. “We have come in the broad sunshine to have the final sign off of the official document indicating to all far and near that we are a transparent government, an accountable government and that we are the peoples government.”

PM Harris indicated that through the entire process his government followed the rules of good governance and said this is why the process had been so long. “It is important for us to appreciate when people are demanding good governance they really do not appreciate some of what is required of it and part of what is required is that there is a transparent system of decision making.

“It is that system that took while to bring us to this point of actualization and it is that system that determined who won bids,” Dr. Harris said.

He then commended all the institutions that have taken part in the financing of this project. “Literally, this is a home-grown project intended for the development of our country to put our people further ahead of the others within the region and to continue the path if growth and development.

“Who would have thought that we would have found in St. Kitts and Nevis the resources among home-grown indigenous institutions to come forward and be able to provide financing to allow the largest public sector expenditure ever to happen in a while to take place today,” Dr. Harris stated.

He continued, ‘The fact that so many entities with different directorship and leadership were confident that this was a right investment speaks well that this project is a good one for St. Kitts and Nevis. ”

Late last year St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) and the Canadian Commercial Corpora) signed a deal naming the Canadian company as main contractor for the construction of the second cruise pier .

Liburd noted that multiple local sub-contractors will also be sourced during the entire process. He added that recruitment process could start as early as next week.