15 Dec 2014

ADB's Fiji loan "worrying"

12:53 pm on 15 December 2014

Fiji's opposition says a new US$100 million loan agreement between the government and the Asian Development Bank is worrying.

It says the recently passed budget for 2015 failed to make any mention of the loan and the Budget estimates only featured a US$1.8 million proposed loan sum from the ADB.

The ADB and the government signed the deal on Friday for a project to improve the the country's land and sea transport infrastructure.

The ADB says the agreement marks the start of the ADB's new 5 year Country Partnership Strategy with Fiji.

The project is aimed at improving access to markets, schools, and clinics and boost services for rural communities.

It will finance the repair and upgrade of existing roads, bridges, and rural jetties, as well as making safety improvements to selected roads and bridges.

Climate-resiliency a focus

The ADB says a focus will be on building climate resilient infrastructure.

The government will contribute $11 million to the project, which will be implemented over 5 years.

Fiji's Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the partnership with the ADB will develop inclusive and sustainable infrastructure.

The opposition's infrastructure spokesman, Aseri Radrodro, says the loan will have a huge impact on the government's debt levels and its repayment terms show a lack of transparency and accountability.

In a statement he said the additional loan when added to the current loan funding programme in the 2015 budget, equates to an additional 2.26% to the debt to GDP ratio.

Mr Radrodro says to commit to a loan which will not have to be repaid during its term in government shows a lack of responsibility on the government's part.

The ADB says it will provide Fiji with up to $350 million in low-cost financing and grants to support the country's development agenda.