Thu, Feb 21, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Government confirms US$100m loan to Nicaragua

Staff writer, with CNA

The government yesterday confirmed that it has offered a US$100 million loan to Nicaragua for humanitarian reasons to help the Central American nation rebuild following months-long riots.

“The government decided to grant Nicaragua’s loan request for humanitarian reasons to support rebuilding projects in Nicaraga following the months-long unrest that damaged infrastructure in the country,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said.

Taiwan hopes the money can help Nicaragua’s government restore social order and help people get back to living normal lives, he said.

The government of Nicaragua, one of Taiwan’s 17 remaining diplomatic allies, has promised to make proper use of the loan and channel it toward repairing damaged infrastructure, he added.

The loan could be controversial, as the US late last year enacted a law making it harder for Nicaragua to access multilateral loans.

Washington has also imposed sanctions on officials close to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, including his wife, Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo.

The Netherlands and Luxembourg last year suspended aid funding to Nicaragua, citing repression during the protests.

The social unrest in the Central American country started in April last year after Ortega’s administration increased payroll taxes and adjusted pensions to try to shore up Nicaragua’s troubled social security system.

On July 7 last year, Ortega officially rejected calls to hold an early election in March, two years before his term expires in 2021.

Human rights groups have said that about 300 people were killed during demonstrations against proposed cuts in social benefits.

Lee’s comments followed a report by Reuters that said the Nicaraguan National Assembly on Tuesday accepted the US$100 million loan offered by Taiwan.

The news agency said that the bill, approved by lawmakers of the ruling Sandinista party, stipulates that the funds are destined to support the country’s budget priorities this year.

The loan is “giving a line of support to President Daniel Ortega’s government, which has become increasingly isolated after a brutal crackdown on protesters last year,” the report said.

In this year’s budget, the National Assembly forecast a budget deficit of US$320 million, up from US$170 million in December last year, the report said.

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