The recent signing of the MOU between Guyana and China on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) should be seen as a continuity from the PPP regime relations with China. The PPP had the Skeldon Factory and Cheddi Jagan International Airport upgrade as mega projects to our standard, financed by Chinese loans. There is a tendency for governments of poor countries to grab at loans offered by the Chinese for infrastructural projects without giving any second thought to feasibility of projects or repayment for two reasons:-
(1) Pakistan’s newly-elected Prime Minister had it right when he said, “The real reason for building these loss-making megaprojects has always been massive kickbacks.” We can identify with Skeldon Factory that never worked at full capacity and the airport expansion where one toilet bowl was itemized at over $160,000 during the PPP’s reign. Kickbacks pocketed, governments have no qualms about future generations being distressed to repay these debts. Political bigotry knows no bounds!
(2) These unproductive projects give governments an opportunity to fool or mislead the masses that the country is on a development path – Skeldon was called the “flagship of the Sugar Industry” by Jagdeo. That “flagship” never left port! For the wastage of state funds to build the Marriott, just to victimize an individual the government detested, Guyanese were told by the PPP that with the Marriott, the country “will take off”. The public was misled. The Marriott continues to bleed the treasury.
The Chinese are aware of their history by which generations ago from AD to the 1700’s had amassed great wealth through the “Silk Route”. After the second world war and the coming to power of the Communist Party, the Chinese no longer saw the world as a place for conquest by guns and bombs, they saw economic might as the mode for world domination.
Their technology and manufacturing industries grew in leaps and bounds. They had schooled and started sending out their pioneers to all parts of the world over four decades ago. We have seen their methodology here. They come through the Chinese Association set up here a long time ago. They have little interest in jobs. They set up restaurants and retail businesses, which they manage meticulously. They don’t socialize or involve in interracial marriages. They convert their profits in US dollars and send it back to their homeland (China).
The communist Government of China, working in tandem with Chinese companies has invested in mineral and energy resources around the world – making sure that the Industrial wheels do not run out of raw materials back home. Added to that, Chinese loans for projects are tied to Chinese contractors doing the job – ensuring that a reasonable percentage of the cash is recycled back home. As a result, China has become the financial powerhouse it is today.
In September 2013, when President Xi Jinping announced China’s Belt and Road Initiative, it was a signal that China was ready to put its money to work on a grander scale.
Will China achieve the World economic domination it seems to be pursuing in memory of its ancient silk route? If it does, it may be as a result of the economic enslavement of the peoples of many nations.
A Washington-based Center for Global Development (CGB), a think tank, pointed out that 23 of the 68 countries that had signed on to BRI are “at a quite high risk of debt distress” and 8 of the 23 are in dire straits “because of future financing related to BRI projects”.
The think tank noted that, “Unlike the world’s other leading government creditors, China has not signed on to a binding set of rules of the road when it comes to avoiding unsustainable lending and addressing debt problems when they arise”.
China lends money for projects without any consideration to feasibility studies. In this scenario, projects are likely to fail, leaving countries in debt traps. Skeldon factory is our classic example. One has to wonder if China has some sort of sinister plan for not signing on to the “binding set of rules”.
The big question for Guyanese: Why would the government sign up for the BRI initiative in light of the above information? Is it that people in government don’t read? I think not. The only logical reason is greed and to mislead the people.
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