Just after two months from signing the MOU with China on the BRI programme and in the context of President Granger’s telling the Media that Guyana is going to be prudent in its approach to projects under the BRI, which is developing a reputation on the international stage as a debt trap for small nations of interest to China, Minister Greenidge signed up for loans from China’s BRI and seemingly closed his eyes, against the President’s promise that they would enter any agreement, “with eyes wide open”, as he hurried past the media in exiting the Convention Centre. It was stated that signing was for US$36.5 million to fund extension of “Guyana National Broad Band Project”, US$14.5 million to build a public service college amongst other small projects and a grant (this is free and will not have to be repaid, a tip for borrowing from China) of US$1.1 million for hosting the UN Convention to combat desertification in Jan 2019. I am not aware of any consensus between Govt and private sector or the general populace for the state to improve internet accessibility. Why can’t this be left for the relevant service providers in the private sector – aided by some government concessions? The government, shrouded in bureaucracy, is struggling to keep GPL as a viable entity. Why venture into this grey area (investment in Broad Band) with borrowed money from China when there are so many examples of debt entrapment of countries as vulnerable as Guyana by China to take cognizance of? Why build a Public Service College for a population of 750,000 people? Our University teaches Math, English, Sociology, etc, if needed, a special programme can be implemented to suit the Public Service. I just cannot see the logic here.
The ‘Chinaologists’ will classify both these projects as vanity projects in context of China’s crusade in its BRI. This is reminiscent of what Dr. Mumbi Seraki spoke of on her show about China’s takeover of Zambia’s assets. Dr. Seraki said, “What China has done is that they have studied countries that have corrupt governments and greedy leaders.”
Dr. Seraki added. We don’t know the kind of agreements they made because all of them were done hush-hush and behind-the-scenes”. The fact that Greenidge was in such a haste to get out of the Convention Centre after signing to get US$50 million loan from China is testimony the fact that Greenidge knew the media had more questions than he was prepared to answer so he resorted to flight.
Seraki further postulates, “We are not told that the debt repayment is set at this percentage and if you fail to pay this percentage, we are going to be in trouble.”
In our local scenario, this is a precedent, set by the PPP even before the Skeldon factory and the Airport expansion project, which the Coalition is emulating like a carbon copy.
While we crave infrastructure for development, the issue here is two projects that seem vague and offer little prospect as a life changer to any significant section of the populace.
Is it China or Government who decides what projects should be done? Given the nature of the literature available on the modus operandi of China’s BRI, it is only logical that we conclude that our Government has sinister motives in borrowing from China for such vagaries. If that is not the case, then it means that our Government is suffering from Alzheimer’s- a disease, which entails rapid memory loss.
It seems they lack the perception to retain anything they read or hear.
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