Editorial

Death By Debt”

Death By Debt”

Sri Lanka’s population is just over 21 million, and it’s about 37 times the size of Trinidad and Tobago. Its total national debt stands at 64 billion and ninety-five percent of its government income goes towards repaying loans!
What has perked worldwide interest recently is how much of that debt is owed to China, and what is being done or demanded by way of repayment.
Many of Sri Lanka’s citizens believe their country has been sold to China via debt repayments.
The easily borrowed Chinese money was used to build infrastructure such as sea and airports, large highways, a state of the art cricket stadium and a huge International Conference centre. All built by Chinese companies using Chinese labour.

The problem is none of these billion dollar projects is generating any income near enough to help repay the loans. The Conference center is hardly ever used, the Cricket stadium is sometimes rented for wedding receptions, the highways lead to nowhere, and the air and sea ports are like proverbial “white elephants”.
Reports say the HABANTOTA docks seldom get one ship per week, while the MATTALA International Airport has so far attracted only a few local or domestic flights.
We feel there’s a lesson or two here, not only for Trinidad and Tobago, but for all the Caribbean. We’ve had a yen for rushing easy Chinese money to build little used, fancy looking modern buildings and other infrastructure, without any real or serious thought as to how the money will be repaid.

Think of the performing, or rather NON-performing Arts Academies in North and South Trinidad, the Tarouba Cricket stadium, the modern sky scrapers in downtown Port of Spain…….then think of the proposed highways to Toco and Manzanilla, and the Toco/Tobago ferry port. Think of the money needed to complete the highway to Point Fortin, think about government’s UNforgotten plans to move the Port of Spain docks to Sea Lots, and plans for a highway on land, or sea to Chaguaramas.

Surely a lot of thinking to do, and lots of money needed too! Late last week, the United Nations said it was worried about our high national debt, and our ability to service it!

Web Master

August 8th, 2017

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