Antigua and Barbuda is seeking a write-down on its unpaid loans to the Paris Club, according to Finance Minister Gaston Browne, who made the disclosure in Parliament on Monday, July 11.
During Questions to the Prime Minister, Barbuda MP Trevor Walker asked Browne whether the Government had defaulted on its external loans from member-countries of the Paris Club.
As a preface to admitting that this country is, in fact, delinquent, Browne said the loans have existed for over 40 years and include funding from IHI for the Tango Desalination Plant.
He claimed the loans have been delinquent under four former heads of government, as well as under himself.
Browne then disclosed that negotiations are taking place with the Paris Club, since it is insisting that all the loans – which stand at over USD $170 million – be paid up.
Accordingly, Browne is hoping that the country’s creditors will extend a write-down on the loan interest at least.
Further, the Prime Minister claims it is unfair for the Paris Club countries to expect to be paid in full given the number of years that have elapsed.
In its first term, the Baldwin Spencer Administration had undertaken negotiations on these long-outstanding debts – acquired by successive Antigua Labour Party Administrations – with the Paris Club.
It is now apparent that the Browne Administration has reneged on those arrangements.