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By Kadeem Joseph

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The government of Antigua and Barbuda is seeking to access over EC$60 million from the People’s Republic of China.

Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, said the government of China has offered loans of US$50 million to friendly countries in the region, but the government is only considering half of that sum.

When asked the rationale for not accessing the full amount, Hurst said, “We cannot increase our debt because we have to repay it.”

While the government official did not indicate the interest rate for repayment, he said, “In two years, I believe, you must begin the repayment schedule, and I think the repayment is three years. So, you get a two-year moratorium, and you must repay it in two years.”

Hurst further explained that repaying the full amount would be too onerous for the country, considering the other obligations that the government has with the Chinese Exim Bank.

He said it “just is impossible” to repay the loan for the restructuring of the port and US$50 million being offered by China.

“The pier and the buildings that are going up down there, we know we have to repay that, that’s almost US$90 million,” Hurst added.

He said that while the government has already communicated its desire to only access US$25 million, China has not yet responded.