Advertisement 87
Advertisement 211
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaking at the press conference in Kingstown on Thursday, April 20, 2023.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaking at the press conference in Kingstown on Thursday, April 20, 2023.
Advertisement 219

The loans that St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has received from Taiwan “put hook in the gill” of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in and not the country, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on Thursday.

He made the point two weeks after he first said the loans “put a hook in the gill of anybody” in SVG who wants to break the diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

SVG has contracted EC$577 million in loans from Taiwan, up from disbursed debt of EC$99.9 million last September, and Gonsalves said the figure is likely to increase before the next general elections, constitutionally due by March 2026. 

The NDP, then under the leadership of Arnhim Eustace, announced in 2016 that if elected to office it would end diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and adopt the One China policy, under which Beijing sees Taipei as a renegade state and has not ruled out force to accomplish its reunification ambitions. 

The NDP has not renounced the One China policy, but its public comments suggest that under the party’s current leader, Godwin Friday, the policy is being reconsidered. 

Advertisement 21

Gonsalves, who while in opposition had opposed Kingstown-Taipei ties, which was established in 1981, has maintained diplomatic relations since coming to office in March 2001.

On Thursday, he told a press conference in Kingstown that his government has deepened those relations over the last 22 years. 

“And it is signalled by the fact that I, personally, I have made 12 visits, official visits, to Taiwan and Taiwan is a major partner for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.” 

He said the diplomatic relations “have evolved with people-to-people relations as a family, our students, our farmers and that is there for everybody to see. 

“And the NDP has said that its policy is to ditch Taiwan, and to hitch its political bandwagon to mainland China.”

He said that that decision of the NDP is very unpopular among the people of SVG. 

“So, because it is unpopular, they will seek to have diversions and confusions and falsehoods and take you away from what is the main issue: Are you going to stay with Taiwan? Are you going to move to mainland China.”

He noted that on April 4, Parliament approved borrowing of EC$110 million from the government owned Export-Import Bank of the Republic of China — a loan that was organised by the government of Taiwan.

“… I pointed out that in the agreement there are two default clauses, there others, but there are two, which properly construed would indicate that it is open to the lender, the bank, to say that there is a default if the material circumstances surrounding the loan, those material circumstances having changed or altered and which affects the management of that loan,” Gonsalves said.

“Well, clearly a material circumstance is likely to be considered if you break the relations with Taiwan, and go to mainland China, the People’s Republic of China,” he told a press conference on Thursday.

“And I said that that represents a hook in the gill of the NDP. Not a hook in the gill of St. Vincent Grenadines, because there is no hook in the gill of St. Vincent Grenadines because we’re getting soft loans for developmental purposes. And we are grateful. There is no hook there,” Gonsalves said.

“The hook is in the gill of the NDP who wants to change from Taiwan to China that if they’re going to effect a change, in some miracle if they were to win government, that they more than likely, given those default clauses, that there will be the demand that you pay us all the money.”

The loans from Taiwan constitute sovereign debt, which is debt owed by SVG, rather than a political party, and which the SVG has an obligation to repay regardless of which party is in office.

Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party won the 2020 general elections by taking nine of the 15 Parliamentary seats, one more than in the previous polls, but lost the popular vote to the NDP for the first time since 1998.  

He noted that there is EC$100 million in dispersed public debt from Taiwan but there’s contracted debt, which, by 2025, would amount to EC$560 million to EC$575 million.

Gonsalves continued: “And may well be more and that if you were to change, Mainland China will have to provide that money for you, a loan of that sum, upfront, so that you, NDP, will have to take it to pay the Taiwan financial institutions which you owe.”

He said the NDP has never opposed a loan agreement with Taiwan.

“Now, when I pointed that out, I don’t know if they didn’t see it before. And in fact, the agreements before our time under the NDP administration, had similar provisions and if you were to go to China, and you borrowed the money from China, mainland China, they would have a similar provision too, that if you were to shift from them and go to Taiwan, they go want all their money,” Gonsalves said.

“So, wait, they’re little children, they don’t understand how school keeping? So, I want Vincentians to know this is a hook in the gill of the NDP, with their reckless policy. And that is perfectly alright for St. Vincent and the Grenadines because we are getting soft loans. And we are getting the soft loans for purposes which are developmental.”

The prime minister said that the NDP, on the one hand, is saying it likes Taiwan. 

“But on the other, they’re maligning St. Vincent for borrowing from Taiwan. And saying that, I say that Taiwan has a hook in the gill of St. Vincent and Grenadines. I didn’t say that. I say it is a hook in the gill of the NDP who wants to change from Taiwan.”

The prime minister said the bulk of the people in SVG are “satisfied with Taiwan and the assistance which we get and the relationship generally and our relationship is not transactional but based on principles. 

“You want to tell me the people in Taiwan can’t determine for themselves what system they want? I say Cuba could determine for itself what system it wants. We are clear in our head about these things, you know. And we are friends of all and we strive for a better world,” Gonsalves said. 

6 replies on “Taiwan’s loan ‘hook’ in NDP’s ‘gill’, not SVG’s — Gonsalves ”

  1. so you mean to differentiate the NDP from SVG? No. You cannot do that. The NDP and SVG are one and the same. SVG is not just the ULP devoid of the NDP. After all, if you want to determine who is representative of SVG based on election results, commonsense will say that since the NDP had a majority of the popular vote in the last election that the NDP is more representative of SVG than the ULP. In reality though, SVG is a combination of the people who make up both parties.

    Gonsalves is a raving mad man with his divisive politics. Long Live SVG! Long Live the concerted welfare of our politically exploited homeland!

  2. What a farcical, weak, and pathetic explanation by the PM! This is circular reasoning.
    These loans – with their restrictive covenants – were made specifically to stymie the attempts of any government, incumbent or otherwise, to modify or amend diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The citizens of SVG are supposedly the beneficiaries of these loans, therefore aren’t the NDP opposition members also citizens of SVG? So, a hook in the gill of the NDP is also a hook in the gill of all Vincentians. We are all in this together.
    The citizens of SVG are responsible for repaying these loans, and the government will, most likely, have to raise revenue to service these loans either by increasing taxes on the citizenry, or cut spending on social services and programs. Notwithstanding the fact that the loans may have a low or favorable interest rate, a huge part of the loan payments will be interest expense.
    According to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, SVG had a Public Debt to GDP ratio of 87.77% as of December 2022. Above the optimal level! This indicates an economy that is structurally weak, and lacks a vibrant private sector. Without a strong private sector to generate jobs and stimulate economic growth, the government’s tax base is diminished. With a weak tax base, the government adopts a policy of borrowing and begging to fund its projects.

  3. The geopolitical dynamics in the world is happening so fast now that even Ralph may see Taiwan be subsumed by Beijing as another province before his passing. The writing is on the wall. Truth be told, Taiwan’s number 1 trading partners NOW is by far mainland China.
    SVG currently remains among only 13 countries in the world today that recognize the government in Taiwan as the seat of power.
    The only question now is the nature of the reunification. Next year’s election in Taiwan will provide a major indicator of that nature.

  4. This man is a Machiavellian he knows how to wiggle himself out of a tunnel even when cornered like our native mongoose. Indeed, its a hook in the gill of any political party that the must contemplate the ramification of severing ties with Taiwan was a deliberate trap and a noose that any government must consider. Here comes the Machiavellian in the form of the world boss, Vincentian style.

  5. Patrick Ferrari says:

    I favour ties with Taiwan but whichever way this is argued, from whosoever’s point of view, it is inescapable that the “hook in the gill” metaphor refers to a sense of entrapment or dependence on Taiwan.

  6. Urlan Alexander says:

    This goes to show how much ralph believes that Vincentians are foolish and stupid. Ralph yo damn right, they don’t read. lol

Comments closed.