Created on 21 October 2011 Hits: 19275 Written by George Category: Latest

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Taiwan has embarked upon a series of punitive actions against Grenada in order to recover close to EC$76 million dollars owed to the Far-east country following the non-payment of a set of loans contracted by the former New National Party (NNP) government of ex-Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.

According to a well-placed source in St. George’s, Taiwan was able to get a judge in New York to issue a court order requesting businesses, which owe monies to Grenada to pay the funds to their lawyers in New York to put into an account set up by Taipei.

The source told THE NEW TODAY that the document has been served on several airlines flying into Grenada, as well as a number of cruise lines that do business with the island.  Among them are said to be American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Continental Airlines, as well as Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruise Lines.

The source said the clear intention of Taiwan is to embarrass Grenada and to hurt the island financially as part of its attempts to recover the funds that were never paid back by the NNP regime.

He spoke of the current Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic congress (NDC) government walking “a very tight rope” in the face of what appears to be “an all out attempt by the Taiwanese to seek revenge for the way in which we embarrassed them”.

In 2005, Dr. Mitchell broke off ties with Taiwan in favour of Mainland China, which had offered him a lucrative package in the aftermath of the destruction caused to the island by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.   The Taiwanese claimed then that the former Grenadian leader decided to move away from Taipei after their leaders asked him to account for the loans that were extended to the small East Caribbean island.

Three of the four outstanding loans were contracted by Mitchell’s NNP between 1997 and 2000 and the other was negotiated by the first NNP government of the late H.A. Blaize just before the March 13, 1990 elections in which the first Congress government came to power.   The funds were handed over to Grenada on July 27, 1990 under the rule of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite.

One of the loans for 10 million U.S dollars was taken from Taiwan by the Mitchell government in January 2000 to help build the Ministerial Complex at the Botanical Gardens in St. George’s.  Another loan for US$6 was contracted with Taipei to help build the first national stadium at Queen’s Park, which collapsed during Hurricane Ivan.

All four loans were given to Grenada by the Export Import Bank of the Republic of China, which is owned by the Taiwanese government.  When the NNP regime broke off relations with Taiwan, Exim Bank requested full payment of all outstanding monies by July 1, 2005, but the then NNP administration ignored the request.

The source said that Grenada is in a very precarious position in light of the court order now in the hands of Taiwan, which is prepared to enforce the court order through the many actions being taken by its lawyers in New York.  He referred to a move by Taiwan to seize the building that is owned by Grenada in Washington, DC that the island uses to house its diplomatic mission to the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS).

“What saved us with that building is that it has diplomatic immunity and so the Taiwanese realised that they could not take it away from us”, he said.   The source was fearful that the tactics being employed by the Taiwanese could result in some foreign investors being afraid to do business with Grenada.

 “The long and short is that the lawyers representing Taiwan are trying to recover their monies and they are coming after us. Look at it this way: If NASWASA sells water to one of the cruise ships that come into the harbour, they are asking the cruise ship to pay the money over to the Taiwanese and not to NAWASA. You could well imagine the implications of this not only on NAWASA but also on the government.

“If a cruise ship docks in our port, they are asking them not to pay the money to the (Grenada) Ports Authority but to their lawyers for Taiwan in New York.  In very short time, the cruise ships might see this as harassment and might stop coming to Grenada.

“If we are to lose them (the ships) in that way, think of what this might mean to our taxi-men, spice vendors, water taxi operators and all the other people in the country who make a living from the cruise ships."

The source said that Grenada is presently in no position to repay the millions owed to Taiwan and might have to look at diplomacy as a possible way out of the crisis.  He dropped hints that Prime Minister Thomas might be forced to engage fellow Caribbean leaders who still maintain friendly ties with Taiwan, such as St. Vincent’s Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and St. Kitts’ Dr. Denzil Douglas, to try and work out a political solution to the Grenada/Taiwan financial dispute.

 The NEW TODAY was told that Mainland China has been appraised of the situation by the Grenada government but Beijing seems rather reluctant to intervene or make any pledges to help write of the million owed to Taiwan by St. George’s.

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