John Fernandes signs US$4M agreement with IDB-Invest to procure mobile crane

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
John Fernandes’ shipping yard [JFL photo]

Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh yesterday oversaw the signing of a US$4M corporate loan agreement between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-Invest and John Fernandes Limited for the procurement of Guyana’s second mobile handline crane.

The signing was done during a virtual ceremony.

The transaction allows for an increase in the quantity of international cargo handled at the port facilities operated by John Fernandes Limited. The IDB noted that currently, all port operations in Guyana rely on crane vessels for loading and discharging containers and that these are less efficient and have less cargo handling capacity than an MHC.

As such, with the incorporation of the MHC, JFL would be able to service gearless vessels that can carry a substantially greater amount of cargo and do so more efficiently due to the MHC’s ability to load and discharge containers at a higher rate.

Speaking during the ceremony, Dr. Singh expressed his appreciation to IDB-Invest for showing commitment in investing in this private sector project which not only allows for development of port facilities generally in the country but is also a sign that the financial institution is showing serious interest in quickly and aggressively assisting in Guyana’s development in more ways than one.

He recalled that it was the same institution that only in October signed a similar loan agreement of the same cost with Muneshwers Limited for the procurement of Guyana’s first mobile crane. He therefore commended both John Fernandes’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Philip Fernandes and the IDB Group’s Country Representative, Guyana (Acting)Lorena Solorzano Salazar for the fast pace at which the agreement was finalized.

According to the IDB, the transaction will not only support increased cargo handling capacity from the current 33 thousand twenty-foot equivalent unit (“TEUs”) containers per year to 100 thousand TEUs per year in 2032 but also improve the port infrastructure in Guyana and   contribute to timely and efficient handling of rising international commerce in the country.

IDB Invest is the private sector arm of the IDB. Its aim is to advance economic development and improve lives by encouraging the growth of the private sector. It offers an array of investment opportunities and provides its clients with customized financing solutions and expert advice, tailored to their specific industry and market.

Attending the signing ceremony were Ms. Lorena Solorzano Salazar IDB Group Country Representative, Guyana (Acting) along with other team members including Mr. Robert Le Hunte, Executive Director for The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago IDB Group, Ms. Jaiwattie Anganu Ramroop, Alternate Executive Director and Mr. James Scriven Chief Executive Officer of IDB Invest. On John Fernandes’ part, accompanying its CEO Mr. Philip Fernandes were other team members including Mr. Michael Xavier, Legal Officer and Mr. Suresh Singh, Senior Accountant.

Last month, during his year-end inspection of GRA’s operations at wharves,  Minister Singh highlighted that clearance of consignments would further be improved with the addition of two mobile cranes to be operated by John Fernandes Limited and Muneshwers as he alluded to this modern crane now being procured by John Fernandes through the above loan agreement as well as referenced the earlier one procured by Muneshwers .

“These pieces of equipment will form part of the further modernization of operations at the wharves,” Dr. Singh had said then.

It was only on Monday evening that Dr. Singh completed his Budget presentation in the National Assembly of $781.9 Billion, the largest Budget in the country’s history intended to advance transformation of Guyana’s economy. The signing immediately the next morning is indicative of Government’s aggressive efforts to transform, develop and implement its programmes and projects. It also demonstrates Government’s commitment to partner with the private sector (considered the engine of growth) wherever necessary, to move the country’s economy forward and transform its landscape.