The Guyana government has defended its decision to seek funding from China for projects here, saying that Beijing makes “softer” loans available than other countries.
“We made it clear to everyone. No financing from anybody comes with political strings but Chinese financing has been readily available to the world and we believe, like the rest of the region, we have to explore friends and partners from every part of the world,” Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo told a news conference on Monday.
He told reporters that Guyana had sought to obtain a Euros 103 million (One Euro=US$1.29 cents) loan from Austria for the construction of a children and maternal hospital but was told that Georgetown would have had to deduct Euros 13 million immediately as an “upfront fee”.
He said in addition, Austria was also indicating that Guyana had to use one of their pre-approved contractors, a position he said was similar to that of India and the United States.
The announcement by Georgetown comes less than a week after a senior Chinese diplomat based in Antigua and Barbuda said the Caribbean region should not be viewed as a “battleground” where major countries form small circles pitted against one another.
Charge d’Affaires at the Embassy of the People’s Republic, Wang Erdong, said both China and the United States could be partners in the development of Antigua and Barbuda and, by extension, the Caribbean.
“As a matter of fact, China and the United States could both be cooperative partners of Antigua and Barbuda. Never has China tried to sell its social system and development path to the Antiguan and Barbudan friends, nor drive a wedge between Antigua and Barbuda and the United States.”
The Chinese diplomat wrote that the “Caribbean region is not a battleground where major countries form small circles pitted against one another.
“The relationship between China and the United States in this region is not meant to be one of rivalry or even confrontation. Caribbean countries should be able to be friends with the United States and at the same time form partnerships with China.”
Jagdeo announced on Monday that the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) has been approved to build the US$256.6 million Demerara Harbour Bridge and that China Railway Group Limited has been selected to open negotiations for the design-build-finance of the 165 megawatt hydropower plant at Amaila Falls.
Jagdeo said Guyana would explore “every source of financing” and make decisions based on the best offers based on an “open” process by America, British, Chinese and other companies.
“We have to build the bridge, we have to build the hydro and we went through an open process. That is what we committed to. We committed to open processes,” he said.
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