Trinidad and Tobago has borrowed 170 million Euros (US$204 million) from China, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said in a virtual meeting held on Monday, with the promise that a percentage will be used to buy what were described as “Chinese elements” – goods and services from China.
One of these “elements,” the minister told reporters, was the Chinese-manufactured Sinopharm vaccine.
“The Chinese facility is part of our portfolio of borrowing,” Imbert said. “We borrow internationally and locally.
“They put a stipulation in place so that of the $207 million, 15 per cent must go to 'Chinese elements,' which was later defined as goods and services. At the time they did indicate that vaccines would be considered as 'Chinese elements.'”
He said about US$25 million out of the $204 million loaned to TT by the Chinese could be used to acquire vaccines from the Chinese government. He said the entire US$25 million would not be used for vaccines, but it would be able to cover any need to acquire the Sinopharm brand from China.
But this is not the only facility that is being used to acquire vaccines, Imbert said.
“Government has done what is required to access more than what is sufficient for vaccines,” Imbert said. “We have the World Bank facility available to us, which has at least US$8 million for vaccines, and we just got approval for a loan from the government of China to help us with general expenses, But contained inside there is a significant amount of money for the purchase of vaccines from China.”
He said government had been working on accessing the loan facility for about a year, and now that it has been approved, a portion of the required US$25 million could go to acquiring vaccines.
He said through Covax, TT was able to aquire its Astra Zeneca vaccines at about $5 per shot. Sinopharm, having just been approved by the WHO cost about $15, a price he is trying to beat down.