(TELESUR) – China’s aid program and financial assistance has done more for the Caribbean region than either the World Bank or the ever-critical U.S., said Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Caribbean News Service reports.
During a ceremony for the Grays Green Community Center, Browne condemned the U.S.’s position regarding China’s involvement in the region.
If the United States truly believed China to be a “predatory leader,” as described by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, then it should “put a framework in place so that developing countries could benefit similar to what the People’s Republic of China is doing,” the Prime Minister said.
“The People’s Republic of China has approved a grant of US$90 million to help us to provide social housing for the people of Antigua and Barbuda so we can build more resultants homes; are those the practices of a predatory government?”
“I say to you, those are the practices of a caring government, a government that understands the needs of the developing countries globally and would have gone the extra mile to help us to build capacity literally in all aspects of our development,” Browne said.
When faced with the disaster of 2017’s Hurricane Irma, Antigua and Barbuda was left with over US$50 million in reconstruction and relief costs and more than 90 percent of its buildings destroyed.
The nation turned to the World Bank and was offered a loan of up to 40 million dollars over 10 years at four percent, which Browne said was “too short” a term with “too high” an interest.
“They said to us, if we want better terms, we had to get a donor to give us Us$20 million so that they can write down their terms probably, maybe down to one percent over 20 years,” he said.
China, on the other hand, offered a loan up to 20 years with a five years moratorium at two percent interest, “not event the World Bank as a developmental institution (provides) that type of concessional funding.”
Since then, aid from Beijing has been ongoing with tens of millions of grants being provided to rebuild health clinics, community centers, among numerous other developments.
In October, Browne defended the Asian republic against the United States, saying China had played a significant role in the socio-economic development of Caribbean countries. He recommended Washington invest its dollars in the region, rather than wasting resources on useless wars.
“Those who are opposed to China’s deepening influence in the hemisphere need to talk less and perhaps they need to put some diplomatic dollars or development assistance… on the table,” Browne said.