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No new loans from China — Jamaica PM

By Jamaica Gleaner

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) with Chinese President Xi Jingping at the 2019 China International Import Expo being held in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, November 5. Also present is Industry and Commerce Minister Audley Shaw (centre).

(JAMAICA GLEANER) —   Jamaica will not be accepting any new loans from China, Prime Minister Andrew Holness disclosed at the end of his official visit to the Asian industrial powerhouse yesterday.

“The Government of Jamaica, in keeping with its firm commitment to reduce debt rapidly, would not negotiate any new loan programmes with our Chinese partners,” a section of an official statement released yesterday by Jamaica House on the prime minister’s official visit to China stated.

Holness, in the statement, said that cooperation with the Chinese on major infrastructure would continue. However, he said those “infrastructure projects will therefore take the modalities of joint venture partnerships, public private partnerships, or private sector transactions directly between Jamaican firms and Chinese firms as the normal course of business”.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke in January said loans from the Chinese accounted for 3.9 per cent of Jamaica’s total loan portfolio. Based on Jamaica’s debt stock of about $2 trillion, loans from the Chinese would amount to about $78 billion.

The prime minister said Jamaica’s partnership with China going forward will focus on economic zones, logistics, agriculture, water and sewage, affordable housing and urban development.

“Under the new cooperation framework, investments will be more strategic and focused on the development of special economic zones and logistics hubs, urban centre development, water and sewerage, agriculture, and affordable housing,” the statement said.

Holness insisted that there remained strategic areas for further investments by China in Jamaica.

“These areas were strategic for investments because they could be pursued on an open, profitable commercial basis, within fiscal incentives allowed by the law and without government necessarily incurring more debt or having to take an equity stake,” he said.

He also noted that the areas were strategic because they aligned with the government’s objectives of stimulating growth, creating jobs, and building resilience in Jamaica’s economy.

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