Taiwan is not the biggest lender to SVG says PM
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves
April 25, 2023

Taiwan is not the biggest lender to SVG says PM

The Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) is not the biggest lender to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), says Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

Gonsalves also stressed last week that he did not say that Taiwan has a hook in the gill of SVG; what he said is that the country has a hook in the gill of the New Democratic Party (NDP) if that party comes to power and wants to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan in preference to mainland China.

Speaking to reporters last week at Cabinet Room, Gonsalves said the NDP recently stated that people were saying that the approximately EC$477.9 million owed to Taiwan by SVG is the largest sum of money the government owes any institution or country.

“…Not true,” he retorted, “the estimates will tell you the public debt as as the 30th of September last year has the World Bank at $588 million, and all that money is not yet dispersed. For instance the EC$270 million loan to build the Acute Referral Hospital … and other contracted loans which there have been some dispersements not all …” the Prime Minister said.

He added that it is sensible to borrow money from the World Bank.

“So what you must tell me; I must not borrow from the World Bank when the interest rate I get there is between three quarter of 1 percent and 1.26 percent?

“The largest interest rate from the World Bank is the Cumberland Hydro Project which Milton Cato borrowed … is 3 percent; we still owe $5.6 million on that.

“And these loans which we have here are 45 year loans. If I get a loan for 45 years at three quarter of one percentage point. What do I do? Refuse it?

“Common sense will tell you the inflation alone will mean that what you eventually pay back is almost a grant,” Gonsalves stressed.

He said also that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has $414 million for SVG.

“… And out of this sum- we don’t have the bulk yet of the $300 million which we borrowed from the CDB for the port…”.

He noted also that the ALBA Bank provided loans amounting to $127 million for airport construction and it could have been more if not for the Petro Caribe loan which saw a 100 percent debt relief.

“So, on the one hand, they saying they like Taiwan but on the other, they maligning St. Vincent for borrowing from Taiwan and saying that I say Taiwan has a hook in the gill of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I did not say that. I say it is a hook in the gill of the NDP who want to change from Taiwan, but the bulk of the people are satisfied with Taiwan.

“And our relationship is not transactional, it is based on clear principles….” Gonsalves stressed.

He said as well that the projects which are being funded by the government of Taiwan through soft loans and other financial initiatives are all important to SVG.

Gonsalves said in the lead up to the last General Elections, the NDP made an issue of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration borrowing money to build a new Parliament Building.

“They didn’t talk about the court house and the parliament which is two together which is $20 million, only saying we borrowing US$20 million for the parliament which was a lie.

The Prime Minister also pointed out that every year, for the civic development fund, SVG gets US$4 million in grants, and that financing the 100 students in Taiwan amount to about $20 million.

“So what you going do when you change to mainland China? Students going come home? You going pay for them if Taiwan want to keep them?

“These fellas have themselves in a monkey pants on this thing eh, a real monkey pants,” the PM said, referring to the New Democratic Party.