P.M. rubbishes claims about debt to China
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has rubbished claims that the government is borrowing “billions” from the Chinese Government.
“It’s wrong, it’s totally wrong,” he told the Samoa Observer yesterday.
“Look for a report issued by the Central Bank that is where the accurate information is found.
“It also indicates the amount (owed) to China.”
Tuilaepa wouldn’t say what “report” from the Central Bank he was referring to. He also wouldn’t say how much Samoa owes China.
But he was adamant the reports circulating online – including claims by Samoa’s most wanted online blogger, Ole Palemia, are wrong.
“Again it is totally wrong,” he said.
Reports circulating on social media claim Samoa’s borrowing from China has reached several “billions.”
But Tuilaepa said there is nothing to hide about what Samoa owes China.
“The amount is also included in the financial budget annually. In the budget it has the total amount of the repayment,” he said.
“Another thing is, there is no need to be concerned over the totality of the debt, because it’s not important.
“What is more important is the annual repayment that is how a country should address its debt.
“It is stupid to look at the totality of the loan, the assumption the loans are to be paid next week. That is ridiculous.
“There are loans that have a grace period of 30 years and that is why it is important to distinguish the totality of the loan and the ability to pay the loan.
“There is a huge difference. If a million is loaned and the government is given 20 or 40 years to pay that off.
“So what’s important is what you pay every year,” said the Prime Minister.
Last month, Sri Lanka’s inability to pay the onerous debt to China and this led to the handing over of the Port to the Chinese Government.
Tuilaepa said this is irrelevant to Samoa.
“Sri Lanka is a huge country and their huge debts cannot be compared to our debts which is very minimal,” he said.
“It is a big country and therefore the loans are big, as for Samoa we are a small country and therefore our loans are very small.
“We are always paying attention to our loans and the World Bank oversees the ability to maintain our loans within reasonable levels of our developments.”
Contacted for a comment, the Chinese Ambassador to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng, declined to comment.
Ambassador Xuefeng told the Samoa Observer, through his Secretary during a phone conversation, that he does not wish to make any comment and referred all questions to the government of Samoa.