Antigua and Barbuda declines loan offer from African Ex-Im Bank

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room
PM Browne

POINTE XPRESS: Antigua and Barbuda will not pursue any loan arrangements with the AfricanExport-Import Bank as its interest rates are ‘too high’.

The disclosure was made in parliament on Monday by Prime Minister GastonBrowne, who said the government took the decision as it was in the best interest ofthe people of Antigua and Barbuda.

“One of the things about this administration is that we are very nimble; almostinvariably we are ‘first-movers’ within the Caribbean on practically every issue.When the African Ex-Im Bank engaged the Caribbean about two years ago-, wesigned on to explore the possibility of doing business with them,” he reported.

However, PM Browne relayed that during the negotiations the government

discovered that what the bank called ‘concessionary rates’ were not what itconsidered to be concessionary.

“We commenced negotiations with the African Ex-Im Bank to secure a loan ofUS$100 million on behalf of the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority to domajor upgrades at expansion at the VC Bird International Airport.

During thenegotiations, the terms they offered us were; a concessional interest rate of 12percent and a 4 percent negotiations fee. I am told that companies such as AirPeace borrow at up to 25 percent interest rate.

However, I must tell you that theAfrican Ex-Im Bank interest rate model does not work for us.

Therefore we had to decline going any further in the discussion,” PM Browne emphasized.

He also revealed that the government has turned to a consortium involvingOppenheimer (Investment bankers) and FCIB to do the loan and that negotiationsare nearing conclusion.

The interest rate will not exceed eight percent with thenegotiations fees at about two percent.

“This is how responsible we have been as a government. We also shop for ‘bestvalue’ for the people of Antigua and Barbuda,” he stated.

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