Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has defended China’s aid amidst growing concerns from the Pacific region’s traditional development partners.
Tuilaepa went in to bat for China during a joint press conference with New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, in his office yesterday.
Tuilaepa said China’s aid is all out in the open and that there are no hidden agendas.
He said China has earmarked for the next five years US$2 billion (T$4.8 billion) for grants to Pacific Islands and US$2 billion (T$4.8 billion) for soft loans.
“It's all transparent,” Tuilaepa said, “it's all out in the open.”
Tuilaepa reminded that many critics forget the periodical consultations with “our donors including the United States, Japan and China."
Tuilaepa recalled that during the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Prime Minister of India, all the Pacific leaders were invited.
“President Xi laid out (all their plans) to all the countries including Australia and New Zealand that have diplomatic relations with China,” he said.
“They did not include countries that had relations with Taiwan. It was in that meeting that those who were there, to hear the message from the president from China that they had earmarked for the next five years US$2billion for grants and US$2billion for soft loans."
“And it’s all a transparent. So what we are doing is follow-up on the undertakings which are done in the open nothing was hidden. Refer back two years, you will find out.”
Prime Minster Tuilaepa said Samoa is only interested in what was promised to them.
Tuilaepa was also asked to divulge how much is owed to the Chinese Government.
“I was asked this question by the local media, and I cannot give it as I am not the Minister of Finance,” he said.
“With our debt capacity payment this year, the priority in our budget which is why we label is under the budget statutory payout."
“We first deduct the payments for our debts because in the debts you’ll find, the dignity of the leaders of this country infused in the debts."
“We should never fail in our debts obligations. After meeting that debt liability what is left is to meet the current expenditure to ensure that the government never stops."
“You know in America, sometimes they close down shop because they run out of money."
“But here we make damn sure that the government is never short and after deducting and meeting our debts, we still have monies to ensure our ongoing obligations works smoothly."
“And we still have a huge balance of over a $100million to pay for our developments because it is very important in developing your budget expenditures every year."
“You must always have enough to develop because with development expenditures your G.D.P. is sure to go up and not down.”