By Ray Chickrie
KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait — The just concluded meeting of the Board of Executive Directors of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has approved more than $575 million in new financing for various projects in Turkmenistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Suriname according to a press release from the IsDB. The meeting was held in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.
The IsDB agreed to an additional US$5.5 million financing for the Suriname towards the upgrading of the New Nickerie Seaport, aimed at reducing the cost of exporting Suriname’s agricultural products to neighbouring countries and at encouraging regional integration through the improvement of infrastructure of the port.
This will also improve the navigability of the Nickerie River, according to the press release. The IsDB had earlier allocated US$11 million to the same project, bringing the total financing of the project to US$16.5 million.
Suriname became a member of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1996 and in 1997 joined the IsDB, the only country in Western Hemisphere to belong to this bank. The IsDB has financed various projects in this Dutch-speaking South American country with a Muslim population of about 20 percent.
Suriname in the 1990s tried to lessen its economic dependency on the Netherlands, its former colonial master by looking east, to India, China and the Middle East. The desire to diversity sources of financing its economic development motivated Suriname to join the IsDB.
To date, the IsDB has funded the upgrading of Suriname’s airport, the building of medical centres in the interior of that country, and the modernizing of Port Nickerie, among other projects to the tune of about $50 million.
Suriname is represented on the Board of Directors by a Governor, Andre Telting, President of the Central Bank of Suriname, and an Alternate Governor, that position is currently vacant. The Board of Executive Directors represent various grouping of countries and Suriname is grouped with Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei under the direction of Haji Junaidi bin Haji Hashim of Brunei.