The Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s is being called upon to make public Grenada’s debt to China and the terms and conditions of all loan arrangements with Beijing.
The call was made Tuesday by Tevin Andrew, the representative in Carriacou & Petite Martinique for the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Andrews expressed concerns with what he termed the high-handedness being demonstrated in recent times by the Chinese government, which has allegedly seized assets in countries which have defaulted on Chinese loans.
He said that there are reports in some quarters that Grenada’s debt to China is in the region of “US$6 billion.
“We are hoping that the Government of Grenada can come and clear the air on this matter because at the end of the day, who will be affected based on the loan agreement and all the debt that we encounter will be the next generation and the people of Grenada, generally and the fine print and so on should be made public to the Grenadian people,” he remarked.
“We want to know because we are the taxpayers and we are the ones who are going to be paying for the debt owing to China. It is important to find out what is the amount…so far we are hearing and also seeing instances where countries which have defaulted on their loans with China, the Chinese government (has) seized certain assets. So, we want to know what is the fine print, what is the loan arrangement and if we default on a loan, what is the consequences,” he said.
The young politician suggested that “those are things that the ordinary Grenadian should be aware of” while pointing out that the Mitchell-led administration is not running a dynasty or a family affair, but the people of Grenada will be the ones affected based on the decisions that the government makes.
“…The people should be a part of the decision and even if the people is not a part of the decision, then at least the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique should be aware of certain decisions that the government of Grenada (are) making”, he said.
It has been widely reported by international media that the Sri Lanka government borrowed heavily to build the Hambantota port, and could not repay the loan and ended up handing over the port and 15, 000 acres of land around it for a 99 year lease debt relief to China.
There are also reports that China is about to take over several other ports and assets belonging to countries that have been struggling to repay their loans.
According to Andrews, this concern about Chinese loan has been brought to the forefront on several occasions.
He said: “We have brought the issue to the forefront…a letter was sent directly to the Prime Minister, directly to the Prime Minister’s Office and to the Ministry of Finance and to several agencies that might be willing to assist in finding out what is the debt we are owing to the Chinese (but) for several months now (there) has been no reply.
“I am calling upon the government, I am calling upon the Ministry of Finance to make it clear to Grenadians, what is the debt to China and we don’t want to know the debt to GDP ratio, we want to know the figure,” he quipped.
Prime Minister Keith Mitchell recently announced a significant reduction on the country’s debt to GDP ratio from 108% to 63%, indicating expectations for further reductions to 55%; however, he did not disclose the exact figures or the debt contracted with China.