The Government has not disclosed details of a loan agreement signed yesterday between Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge and China’s State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi.
At a ceremony at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Greenidge delivered remarks after signing the agreement, but made no mention of the total amount in loan funds Government committed taxpayers.
Greenidge said that the funds are to implement the Guyana National Broadband Project and several other projects, including a Public Service College. He did not state how the funds are to be divided among the projects and what were the ‘several other projects’.
Following the speeches, the two Foreign Affairs Ministers shook hands for the cameras and exited the room without giving reporters an opportunity to ask questions.
Kaieteur News sought to approach Greenidge to provide information as he exited the Centre, but muttered with a raised hand that he was late for another engagement.
He entered his vehicle and left.
Information suggests that the funding for the broadband project is US$52M.
In place of Greenidge not engaging the media, staff of the Foreign Affairs Ministry approached journalists following the signing to inquire what information was being sought. This was considered woefully unacceptable by some journalists.
The Ministry, too, initially failed to provide details about the monies involved in the loan agreement and the additional projects identified to receive funding from, China.
Late yesterday afternoon, Ministry officials disclosed that there were three agreements – a framework agreement of a concessional loan of US$36.4M under which the Guyana National Broadband project falls; an agreement on economic and technical cooperation of US$14.5M to fund several projects, including the Public Service College.
The Ministry did not state what other projects were involved.
The third is a grant of some US$1.1 towards Guyana’s hosting of the 17th Session of the Committee for the Review and Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 17) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in January of 2019.
Media houses were invited to be at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre for 8:45 a.m., but upon arrival, learnt that the signing would take place at 10:30 a.m. instead.
The media was asked to wait in a pre-selected media room.
Ministry officials never returned to inform the media that the signing was taking place, resulting in some media houses, including Kaieteur News, missing the initial stages of the signing ceremony. It was a state photographer who returned to the room to inform that the signing ceremony had started.
On previous occasions, Greenidge had invited questions from reporters after signing bilateral agreements.
It is unclear whether the Chinese delegation had made any special request regarding yesterday’s ceremony.
Not engaging the media is not new for officials of China, which is home to one of the world’s most restrictive media environments and its most sophisticated system of censorship.
According to press freedom monitors, China’s Government maintains control over news reporting via direct ownership, accreditation of journalists, harsh penalties for online criticism, and daily directives to media outlets and websites that guide coverage of breaking news stories.
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