St. Kitts and Nevis reschedules loan with Taiwan

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas (left) and President His Excellency Ma Ying-jeou (photo by Erasmus Williams)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 24TH 2011 (CUOPM) – AUS$35 million loan from the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for the expansion of the apron at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport and the reconstruction of the cruise ship berth at Port Zante has been rescheduled.

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas informed the nation on Tuesday that his official visit to Taiwan in March to hold talks with its President His Excellency Ma Ying-jeou continues to bear fruit.

“Last night at the cultural performance by the youth from Taiwan, I was informed by the Taiwan Ambassador His Excellency Miguel Tsao that his Government is very pleased to respond positively to my request to reschedule our debt,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

He disclosed that his request was for the interest rate to be reduced from five to maybe two or three percent and a five year moratorium be granted as a result of the difficulties being experienced in the local economy as a result of the international financial crisis.

“To my surprise I was informed last night the Government of Taiwan has agreed that the interest rate be reduced from five percent to one percent and that the moratorium starting payment has been extended not from five years as I had requested, but to 15 years,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who indicated that it is this kind of negotiations that is becoming critical as St. Kitts and Nevis together with the rest of the Caribbean look at how they can tackle the serious debt problem and how it can respond positively to the continuing challenge of paying the interest payments that are due on credits over the years.

“We not only have to look at the IMF in terms of the additional resources but we continue to look at the possibility of dealing with the serious national debt. We have incurred debt because we pursued a particular path for the development of our country, especially after a series of hurricanes. The Government also took over the debt of the Sugar Industry, which was over EC$400 million when the industry closed,” the Prime Minister pointed out.

Dr. Douglas who is also the Minister of Finance said the ongoing discussions with the IMF and the Federation’s debt advisors “will be able to ensure that our approach to tackling the difficulties that we are having in the economy will result in a large extent to no loss of the social development programmes that our people are enjoying at this time, because we believe that our people have been asked to pay enough and I do not think that we can ask them to pay anything more.”

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