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Taiwan confirms US$100 million loan to Nicaragua for reconstruction

2019/02/20 13:15:29

Taipei, Feb. 20 (CNA) Taiwan on Wednesday confirmed that it has offered a US$100 million loan to Nicaragua for humanitarian reasons to help the Central American government rebuild following months-long riots in the country.

"The government decided to grant Nicaragua's loan request for humanitarian reasons to support rebuilding projects in Nicaragua following the months-long unrest that damaged infrastructure in the country," MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said.

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

Nicaragua, one of Taiwan's 17 diplomatic allies around the world, has promised to make proper use of the loan and channel it to rebuilding damaged infrastructure, Lee said.

The loan could be controversial after the United States enacted a law late last year making it harder for Nicaragua to access multilateral loans. It has also imposed sanctions on officials close to President Daniel Ortega, including his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.

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

The social unrest in the Central American country started in April 2018 after Ortega's administration increased payroll taxes and adjusted pensions to try to shore up Nicaragua's troubled social security system.

On July 7, Ortega officially rejected calls for holding an early election in March 2019, two years before his term expires in 2021. Human rights groups say about 300 people were killed during demonstrations against proposed cuts in social benefits.

Lee's comments came in response to a foreign media report that said Nicaragua's congress on Tuesday accepted the US$100 million loan offered by Taiwan.

The Reuters report said the bill approved by lawmakers from the ruling Sandinista party said the funds were destined to support the country's budget priorities this year.

The Taiwanese 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 the 2019 budget, Nicaragua's congress forecast a budget deficit of US$320 million, up from US$170 million in December 2018, the report said.

(By Joseph Yeh)
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