Taiwan has indicated transparency in the EC$54 million loan financing Saint Lucia secured from the Export-Import Bank of the Republic of China (Eximbank) in 2020.
Saint Lucia secured the money to fund the St. Jude Hospital reconstruction project.
Amid concerns that the money went to a private account, Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) quoted the country’s Foreign Ministry saying that the loan process was transparent and per a contract signed with Saint Lucia.
Fire destroyed Saint Lucia’s St. Jude Hospital in 2009.
Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesman Jeff Liu explained on Saturday that as a result, the then Saint Lucia government secured a US$20 million loan from the Eximbank.
Taiwan’s Overseas Engineering and Construction Corp. (OECC) was entrusted with the reconstruction project.
The OECC is a construction company formed by various Taiwanese syndicates to handle infrastructure projects funded by the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the country’s diplomatic allies.
According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, the Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesman said that based on the contract terms, the money could be remitted to OECC’s account in Taipei after the Saint Lucia government approval for the hospital renovation.
The spokesman told the news agency the construction company was willing to provide all remittance details for review by the Saint Lucia government.
Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre has announced a probe into how the former United Workers Party (UWP) administration handled the EC$54 million Taiwanese loan financing.
On Friday, a release from Pierre’s office said there was no evidence indicating the monies went into the Consolidated Fund as legally mandated by the Finance (Administration) Act of Saint Lucia.
“Diverting monies raised for the government to privately held accounts significantly limits the government’s ability to adequately account for its usage,” the release observed.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said Pierre explained the matter to the Taiwanese embassy in Saint Lucia.
Spokesman Jeff Liu said the Saint Lucia PM noted that the Saint Lucia government’s action aims to strengthen accountability and financial management.
But Liu explained that Pierre indicated that the probe did not imply concerns about the loan case or the OECC.
In a release last week, Saint Lucia’s United Workers Party observed that the OECC’s bank accounts are based in Panama.
“Like with most development projects, the financing institution pays the contractor directly; therefore, funds associated with the project do not necessarily come into the consolidated fund,” the release stated.
And the UWP accused the ruling labour party government of creating a distraction from borrowing $1 Billion in 2 years and a disastrous decision to borrow $200 Million to rehabilitate the old St. Jude Hospital.