Taiwan Says Loan to Saint Lucia Given in Transparent Way

By Huang Ya-shih and Ko Lin

The process by which a loan was given by Taiwan to Saint Lucia was transparent and executed in accordance with a contract signed between the two sides, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on Saturday amid allegations that the money was transferred to a private bank account.

The ministry’s response came after Saint Lucia Prime Minister Philip Pierre said in a Facebook page that he is seeking to probe how a loan originating from a foreign government entity was channeled to a privately held bank account.

Pierre was referring to the EC$54 million (US$19.98 million) in loan financing which Saint Lucia secured from the Export-Import Bank of the Republic of China (Eximbank) in 2020 to fund the Caribbean country’s St. Jude Hospital reconstruction project.

He said the money should have been deposited into the Consolidated Fund as is legally mandated by the Finance (Administration) Act of Saint Lucia, adding that the loan’s handling was improper and someone must be held accountable.

In order to renovate St. Jude’s Hospital, which was destroyed by fire in 2012, the previous government of Saint Lucia had secured a loan of US$20 million from the Eximbank and entrusted Taiwan’s Overseas Engineering and Construction Corp. (OECC) to carry out the project, MOFA spokesman Jeff Liu told CNA on Saturday.

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.

Based on the contract terms, the money can be remitted to OECC’s account in Taipei after approval by the Saint Lucia government to fund the hospital’s renovation, Liu said.

The construction company is willing to provide all remittance details for review by the Saint Lucia government, he said.

Pierre had provided an explanation on this matter to Taiwan’s Embassy in his country that the action taken by the Saint Lucian government is aimed at strengthening government accountability mechanisms and financial management and did not imply any concerns about the loan case itself or the OECC, according to Liu.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend