Biddings to delay Chinese loan payback is government’s job, PM’s Office says

King Tupou VI shakes hands with Speaker Lord Fakafanua and PM 'Akilisi Pōhiva. Photo/Tonga Parliament

NUKU’ALOFA, 29 NOVEMBER 2018 (KANIVA TONGA NEWS) – The effort to persuade the Chinese government to defer Tonga’s loan repayments has been a government responsibility, the Prime Minister’s Office has said.

Tonga first asked for a deferment of the repayment was when Lord Tu’ivakanō and his government came into power in 2010.

Earlier this month the Minister of Finance Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa has signed another agreement with the Chinese authority during APEC meeting in PNG to defer the repayments for another five years.

Tonga’s preference was to have the loan written off, but this had not been possible so far, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson, Lōpeti Senituli, told Kaniva news.

Senituli said Tonga has already started repaying the interest of the concessional loans.

“The Chinese Government on its part has been magnanimous in deferring payment of the principal for another five years,” he said.

The Tongan government and China have just signed the Belt and Road initiative.

When the signing was announced it was reported that China had delayed Tonga’s loan repayments.

Senituli said there had been no linkage of the signing to the quest for reprieve on the loan repayments.

“There was no conditionalities on our signing of the MOU on BRI,” he said.

However Senituli said: “The quest for a reprieve had been ongoing from Prime Minister Tu’ivakano’s  time and now to the current Prime Minister.”

The Minister of Finance Hon Tu’i’onetoa said: “I signed at Port Moresby, PNG, the deferment of the repayment of the principal of the above loan with the representative of the Exim Bank of China, as Minister of Finance on behalf of Government of Tonga, during our visit with the Prime Minister, Samuela Akilisi Pohiva, to PNG for the APEC meeting.”

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