Vice President Leni Robredo once again discloses her unsolicited opinion that is unlogical as usual. How exactly are we going to end up like Sri Lanka? Does she fear that the Bicol Express railway system becomes useless as MRIA and the Hambantota port? Is she not convinced that the project would generate sustainable revenues? Can she tell us how the Bicol Express financed by Chinese loans would fail to aid the economic development of her region? She can answer these questions to be neutral. Spreading doubt using the debt scare mentality that maligns the government she serves is indeed a self-destructive move.
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Sri Lanka Debt Trap
What led to the Sri Lankan debt trap? Is it the mere act of financing these projects with Chinese loans? Or is it the failure of these projects to generate revenues? One can easily see that Sri Lanka fell into a debt trap because the infrastructure they built using the debt were useless. They failed in their business plan for economic growth in the Hambantota region.
Lack of Substance
Robredo is famous for making brainless comments. All shine but lack in substance. How exactly are we going to end up like Sri Lanka? Taking a loan from China does not give us the same fate as the latter. Instead of praising the previous administration’s plan that went nowhere, she could have offered a more sophisticated comment commensurate with the mandate of her current government position.
Background of Sri Lankan Project
According to the Manila Times;
Sri Lanka’s debt trap was caused by large-scale infrastructure projects of the administration of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Some of these are the Hambantota port and the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA). Both were largely funded by loans from China. These projects aimed to make Hambantota, Rajapaksa’s home region, become the second Colombo. As Wade Shepard wrote in Forbes magazine (May 28, 2016), “the idea was that Hambantota would be transformed into Sri Lanka’s second most prestigious city. It would become a place built on international trade and commerce, that would be full of joint ventures, [foreign direct investment], and everything a modern city could desire.” Yet both projects failed to generate economic returns.
Fearmongering and Biased Views
Without knowing all the facts mentioned, Robredo’d crude use of the Sri Lankan analogy is nothing but fearmongering. The P175-billion overseas development aid to be borrowed from China will be used to revive the operation of the Bicol Express, Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez said. It is not a rehabilitation but a reconstruction. Everything is new. No traces of the LP administration at all.