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Beggars Can't Be Choosey

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Editor,

I’ve read with great interest the debate on whether to accept Chinese money which, the Tongan Government wishes to borrow. I was disappointed when none of the opposition advocators could muster a single good economics reason why Chinese money is unacceptable.

I was looking for someone to do some research and provide data to backup their opposition to the $118 million loan from China. Nobody can deny the money is needed to rebuild Nuku’alofa. Would American money, or New Zealand money, or Australian money be more acceptable?

Even People’s Representatives lack of confidence in the loan repayment lacks convincing reasons. They sound like aimless politicians who lack confidence in themselves, and no proactive vision for the future. Legislative Assembly records of debates on the subject show their blanket opposition to the loan while providing no alternatives.

The best prepared argument against the loan I’ve read so far was from Professor Futa Helu. Mr. Helu did his homework in the social ramifications of the loan. Borrowing money from a communist government, an atheist country, and non-Western alliance was unacceptable to him. Unfortunately, he did not cite any harmful economics reasons.

As I understand it, the Prime Minister backs the loan to revitalize downtown Nuku’alofa from the ashes of the November 11, 2006 riot. Business Victims of the fires would be able to borrow from the Chinese seed-money to rebuild their businesses with government backing. Most of the victims were probably without fire and liability insurance coverage.

What the People’s Representatives should be asking on behalf of the people such as:

- What are the loan interests for Nuku’alofa businesspeople?

- Will the interest rates be affordable or not?

- What are the repayment time required for these individual loans?

- What are the qualification requirements on these loan applications?

- How much subsidization will government provide the people?

- Are the victims of 16/11 in favor or oppose to an opportunity to rebuild their livelihood and their businesses?

Instead of opposing an opportunity to rebuild and revitalize Nuku’alofa, PRs are ‘burying their heads in the sand’ in denial. They encouraged the burning of Nuku’alofa, and they should be first to rebuild our Beloved Capital.

Sione Mokofisi

samokofisi [at] mac [dot] com