Chinese airport deal not final yet- Jooste
Public enterprises minister Leon Jooste has said a proposal by the Chinese to provide funding for the Hosea Kutako International airport is not a done deal yet.
Speaking to this publication this week, Jooste said it was unfortunate that leaked documents of correspondence between the finance minister and the Chinese ambassador Zhang Yiming had been misinterpreted by the public.
“It’s true what the finance minister is saying in those papers but I must say that nothing has been concluded yet. I am sorry for the way it came out and I feel sorry for those guys (Schlettwein and Obeth Kandjoze).”
“It’s not like the minister is agreeing because there is still a lot to be done. We are of course under pressure with regards to Hosea Kutako. Remember they were in China where they discussed the whole package,” said Jooste.
Documents leaked by the Affirmative Repositioning this week disclosed that Schlettwein accepted a Chinese proposal for a grant and concessional loan to fund the expansion of the Hosea Kutako International Airport.
The documents of the correspondence have drawn outrage from the pressure group given that the minister had earlier indicated that there was no loan agreement reached yet for HKIA.
But it now appears that the minister has shown the Chinese the proposed areas to be upgraded as well as costs which run into N$215 million.
Responding to Yiming in a letter dated August the 20th 2018, the minister confirmed the “intention” of government to make use of this proposed funding “by not more than 90% of concessional loan and not less than 10% grant.
He agreed to the Chinese offer of an interest of 2% per annum for a period of 20 years and a five-year grace period.
He also wrote that the management and commitment fees as set out in the Chinese’ offer letter are to be at 0.25% of the loan amount.
The documents also reveal that the Chinese had presented their offer to fund Hosea Kutako to the minister of economic planning, Obeth Kandjoze.
Kandjoze has asked for questions to be sent to him via email.
“Your Excellency, your expressed offer for the financing of this project with a combination of a grant and a concessional loan by the Chinese government is in accord with the high-level intent to implement this impactful project.”
“Though the cost is denominate (in) USD, it (is) worth stating that the country’s foreign debt portfolio is largely denominated by USD. Hence the government prefers to undertake this loan in RMB,” the finance minister wrote.
He also promised to share with the Chinese ambassador a full assessment report on how the HKIA should be funded from the World Bank which he said has so far been completed.
The minister’s phone could not be immediately reached when The Villager called while his permanent secretary, Ericah Shafudah refused to comment.
Meanwhile, AR’s Job Amupanda has breathed fire over this exposition and slammed Schlettwein for selling the country over to the Chinese under a veil of secrecy.
“The man (Schlettwein) is saying in his response that we accept your terms without any amendment. He didn’t even change anything, not even a comma. You remember what I said this man said to me on the 30th of September that government had not negotiated anything.”
“But already on the 20th of August the previous month they had already made a commitment. So it is a terrible disaster, other countries are learning a lot from this but I don’t understand why we don’t seem to want to learn,” said the activist.
Amupanda said this might be a mere tip of the iceberg saying he would be releasing more letters that are clearly indicating what is going on.
In July of this year, the minister allayed fears that the country was running into a Chinese debt trap saying that their concessional loans to Namibia make up only 2.6% of the total debt the country is sitting on.
He indicated that the total amount of debt the country has on its back stands at N$76.6 billion at the moment.
As per the bilateral arrangement between the two countries, Namibia has benefitted from China in grants to the tune of N$1.3 billion, interest-free loans at N$302 million and concessional loans worth N$1.7 billion, Schlettwein told The Villager four months ago.
He revealed that Namibia sourced a total of N$1.99 billion in loans from the China Export Import Bank.
Meanwhile, media reports of the Chinese taking over business in the north and erecting hardware’s that sell cheap, kicking local businesses out of the economy have gone rife and cemented the Chinese-capture phobia.