“This matter should have never reached the courts, had it been dealt with in an appropriate manner by the previous administration and, second, this is a matter between the statutory corporations and Taiwan, not the government of Grenada,” Thomas told a news conference over the weekend.
“However, in order to rectify this matter quickly, the legal team is at work and redress is expected shortly; meanwhile, a concession loan and other capital injections are being aggressively pursued,” he added.
Taiwan has embarked on an all out offensive to recover EC$70 million (US$25.9 million) Grenada owes to its state export Exim Bank and the Thomas administration believes Taipei is mainly seeking revenge for the decision by the previous Keith Mitchell regime to sever diplomatic relations in favour of China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province.
In 2006, Taiwan won a summary judgment against Grenada in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to recover its loan balance of about US$21 million plus a US$5000 dollars daily per diem charge.
As a result, cruise ships visiting the island are withholding payments and instead depositing the fees in a special account in the United States because of the loan dispute between Grenada and Taiwan.
Thomas’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Mitchell’s main opposition New National Party (NNP) both claim that Taiwan has been refusing to cooperate with their individual efforts to have the debt payments rescheduled.
Taiwan’s move against tourism dependent Grenada has also come at a time when the island has barely recovered from the ravages of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and with a cash-strapped economy still crippled by a global recession.
Prime Minister Thomas also told reporters that crime had emerged as one of the main challenges threatening economies and livelihoods in the Caribbean.
He said that his government has successfully tabled a terrorism bill, which will be debated by the Senate soon.
A government spokesman said that throughout his meetings here, Prime Minister Thomas reiterated that Grenada is a safe destination as well as emphasising the excellent business climate on the island.
He said that the government continues to create opportunities for young people especially in health sector training, ICT and agri-business.