Hidden debt of São Tomé and Príncipe over US$70 million

The hidden debt contracted by the government of former prime minister Patrice Trovoada is over US$70 million, the current prime minister of São Tomé and Príncipe said on Monday in São Tomé.

Jorge Bom Jesus explained that “those internal debts have to be viewed in all seriousness and we will work to assign responsibilities, even criminal ones, if necessary.” He made his comments after visiting the offices of the Court of Auditors.

Bom Jesus said that the mentioned value of more than US$70 million may eventually rise, “because the calculation work is not yet finished,” reports Lusa news agency.

He recalled that the internal public debt is causing the most problems for national companies and regretted that the state’s debts had caused various companies to become insolvent, “because the state itself is not fulfilling its responsibilities.”

The International Monetary Fund has accused the government of former prime minister Patrice Trovoada of hiding various debts and expenses amounting to 3.0 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), whereby the debt of São Tomé and Príncipe is “virtually uncontrolled.”

“When we were here in April, we discovered that spending on the order of 2 percent of GDP had been done but not entered in the accounts presented to us,” said Xiangming Li, head of the IMF mission to São Tomé and Príncipe.

He explained that the equivalent of 1 percent of GDP had to be added to that 2 percent, due to loans contracted by public bodies from commercial banks, “which made the country exceed the previously established reference indicator.” (Macauhub)