12 Apr 2013

Tahiti's Temaru reveals huge loan deal with China

1:36 pm on 12 April 2013

French Polynesia's president, Oscar Temaru, says he has signed a deal with China for a five billion US dollar loan to be used for major infrastructure projects.

Mr Temaru made the disclosure during a televised pre-election inteview when he was asked about his pro-independence party's plans to revive the economy, which has seen a sharp contraction in recent years.

He suggested that under the memorandum of understanding with China's Development Bank, the funds could be used to build an international airport in the Marquesas islands and improve public transport to ease congestion in Papeete.

Earlier in the election campaign, the anti-independence Tahoeraa Huiraatira categorically dismissed claims that it planned to get such a loan from China.

Mr Temaru also says the territory's independence could see French doctors be replaced with Cuban physicians, who he says cost a lot less.

The territorial election will be in two rounds, with the first one on April the 21st.