Mozambique: Finance minister dismisses Chinese asset seizure fears

By Jorge Joaquim

Finance minister Adriano Maleiane

Finance minister Adriano Maleiane has rejected suggestions that China will seize Mozambican public assets if the government defaults on Chinese loans.

Addressing parliament Maleiane said that the fears expressed by opposition party members were groundless.

“There are no indications of this… We have no information that the Chinese government can seize any assets in Mozambique due to defaults”, he said.

He insisted that the debts with China, which he said totalled $2.02bn, had been handled smoothly. $1.97bn of the debt is with China Exim Bank, and has paid for projects such as the Maputo ring road and bridge over the Bay of Maputo.

Maleiane said that he thought these projects would eventually pay for themselves through toll fees.

Venâncio Mondlane, of opposition party Renamo, claimed that it would take 75 years to pay off the bridge debt, and asked if any infrastructure project financed by China had been profitable, but Maleiane did not reply.

Mondlane pointed to alleged cases in which Beijing opted for the seizure of infrastructure by debtor states in Africa and Asia to ensure the settlement of debts.

The Center for Public Integrity (CIP) considered a few days ago that Mozambique’s debt to China was “not very transparent”, demanding that Filipe Nyusi’s government explain how it will manage this burden. The Mozambican NGO also criticized the way in which this money was used by the government, stressing that the debt can be compared to the recent past of hidden debts of the Mozambican state.

Currently, the debt to China is the largest that Mozambique has with a single country, and this debt represents about 20.2 percent of Mozambique’s total external debt, and about 13.2 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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