Govt. firm on loans payments amidst crisis

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Leasiosiofaasisina Oscar Malielegaoi, has assured that the Government is a “responsible borrower” and is prepared to make repayments on loans from China and multilateral institutions including the International Monetary Fund.

Leasiosiofaasisina told the Samoa Observer that repayments would be made to all the country's creditors, including the Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (J.I.C.A.).

As of last December, the Government's outstanding debts stood at $1.04 billion. 

“Every year, based on our domestic resources only 11 percent of [our] resources are used to pay debts, not only to China but all our partners, leaving us 89 percent to pay our salaries and operations and capital expenses,” he told the Samoa Observer in an interview.

Leasiosio said the Government is more than able to pay the debts.

According to the Governmental Finances for the 2019-2020 Financial Year, released by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (S.B.S.) the level of the country’s loans have decreased by $43 million. 

The report says bi-lateral loans at the final quarter of the last calendar year amounted to $477.9 million. 

Loans to the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) stood at $391.4 million; while $86.5 million was owed to the Japanese Government through J.I.C.A.

Loans from the Asian Development Bank amounted to $226.9 million. 

But loans to the World Bank increased by $16.1 million to stand at $295.2 million in December 2019, the report found.  

Asked whether the Samoa Government anticipates seeking waivers of loan repayments given the economic situation, the C.E.O. did not say definitively. 

“If they do offer that, but we will not go asking, unlike other countries [which] are asking for [grace periods to be extended] and they’re missing the spirit that if you sign up to a loan, the expectation is that you pay what you owe,” the C.E.O. said. 

“We have the [financial] capacity and if we’re offered the option then we’ll take it.”

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