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The Government of Cuba awarded Guyana a US$1 million debt write-off at the recently concluded 23rd Session of the Guyana/Cuba Joint Commission held in Havana from November 22 to 23.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Co-operation said the debt originated as a result of an outstanding amount under the credit agreement signed on March 18, 1986 between the then Guyana National Co-operative Bank (GNCB) and Banco Nacional De Cuba (BNC).

With interest owed added at date of signature of the Agreed Minutes of the Joint Commission the debt amounted to US$2 million.

The ministry's statement said the local delegation was headed by Minister Dr Henry Jeffrey and representatives from the ministry, the Guyana Sugar Corporation, Barama Company Ltd and the Office of the President. The Cuban delegation was headed by Minister for Foreign Investment Marta Lomas Morales and included representatives from the ministries of Transport, Foreign Trade, Agriculture, Science, Technology and Environment.

The statement said discussions between the two sides were fruitful and as a result, the local health sector is expected to receive Cuban experts to fill vacancies for an Interventional Cardiologist at the Georgetown Public Hospital and one radiologist, one urologist and an anaesthetist at the New Amsterdam Hospital.

Additionally, from the discussions the Public Works and Communication, Culture, Youth and Sport and Agriculture ministries as well as the University of Guyana and the Guyana Sugar Corporation would also stand to benefit from the new co-operation programme agreed on by both governments.

Guyana and Cuba, the statement added, have also agreed on the importance and need for joint efforts in the expansion of trade between the two countries.

It noted too that Barama Company Ltd has established business ties for the exportation of timber supplies to Cuba, and its government has agreed to host a team of timber suppliers from Guyana to discuss sale and utilization of the various species of timber.

The ministry said the possibilities provided by other sectors relating to trade in services, health, pharmaceutical, environment, food and agriculture were also highlighted during the joint session.

According to the statement, Guyana highlighted the benefits accrued to the health and higher education sectors from the "projects and offers" agreed upon during President Bharrat Jagdeo's visit to Cuba in February this year.

During the delegation's visit, Jeffrey also held meetings with Cuban Minister of State, Ricardo Cabrisas, Raul De La Nuez and Alejandro Gonzalez, ministers of Foreign Trade and Foreign Affairs. The minister also met Guyanese students studying in Cuba.

Cuba has assisted Guyana in many areas including construction of four comprehensive diagnostic treatment centres to be staffed by Cuban specialists and technicians at Leonora, Mahaicony, Diamond and Suddie respectively. Additionally for the period 2006 - 2019, 715 students have received scholarships to study in Cuba in the field of Medicine, 125 in the field of Agronomy, and 125 in Engineering.

The 24th session of the Guyana/Cuba joint commission is slated to be held here in Guyana in November next year.

Source: Stabroek News

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