19 Sep 2013

Tonga gets loan repayment extension from China

1:30 pm on 19 September 2013

The prime minister of Tonga, Lord Tu'ivakano, has told parliament China has deferred repayments on a huge loan for the rebuilding of the central business district in the capital, Nuku'alofa.

Matangi Tonga reports the first repayments on the more than 60 million US dollar loan had been due this Saturday but the prime minister says China has written to his office saying these have been deferred.

He says this followed a request by his government for an extension, but he says China is yet to let them know just when, or if, the first repayments will now be due.

The immediate outlook for the Tonga economy is bleak with more than half of the country's recurrent budget coming from donor aid.

In the past week China has committed to provide significant aid support to Tonga and has also signed a contract to build a major new building in the capital to house government departments.