Government has “categorically” denied charges by Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader Mia Mottley that it had ignored a Chinese offer to finance rehabilitation of the South Coast sewerage system.
Wrapping up debate last night in the Senate on a resolution for the acquisition of a portion of land in a section of Upper Collymore Rock for the building of a roundabout, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean said the charge was simply not true and Mottley was out of place.
During a BLP meeting on Sunday night, the BLP leader charged that the Freundel Stuart administration had failed to acknowledge an offer made two-and-a-half years ago by a leading Chinese bank to provide hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the problematic south coast sewerage system, along with the Bridgetown system, and to build one for the west coast.
However, McClean took Mottley to task over the allegations, suggesting the issue was more complex than the Opposition Leader had made it appear to be.
“As Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade I know something about negotiations with our bilateral partners and I have heard on repeated and multiple occasions by the Leader of the Opposition that this administration refused to accept funds from the Chinese government,” McClean told the Senate.
“Let me say this categorically, the Government of Barbados, through its arrangements, bilateral at the level of country to country and country to region . . . is part of an arrangement to access resources whether it is grant funding, special loans or loans at special concessionary rates. In respect of capital projects in this country it was agreed between the two countries to submit a set of proposals for funding and we submitted a set, including the issue of sewerage in those projects.
“The government of China through its various agencies would have looked at that and they also identified their priorities for funding. So the Opposition Leader is out of place and incorrect. I know she has access to all kinds of information that she shouldn’t have . . . but to say those kinds of things are misleading. So persons will look at you and say, ‘how come the Government of Barbados has refused these things’, when it is not true,” McClean added.
Mottley had alleged that Government had received a proposal from China in July 2014 for over $200 million to fund the programme, 85 per cent of the cost for building a west coast sewerage plant, a Bridgetown upgrade and a south coast sewerage treatment plant upgrade.
She said at the time the proposal was valid for 12 months up to August 2015, but “the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has never received a response” to the proposal from the Ministry of Finance.