São Tomé and Príncipe government forwards “hidden debts” to the Public Prosecution Service

14 October 2019

The Government of São Tome and Principe has recently handed over to the Public Prosecution Service documents relating to “hidden debts” allegedly incurred by the Government of Patrice Trovoada, estimated to total 1.97 billion dobras (79.4 million euros), according to an official announcement.

The statement signed by the Minister of Planning, Finance and the Blue Economy, Osvaldo Vaz, said that the debts relate to 2018 and that they are not accounted for in the public debt contracted until the end of that year and that it is “a burden of domestic debt never recorded in São Tomé and Príncipe during the terms of the different governments.”

The submission of documentation related to “hidden debts” to the Public Prosecution Service came four days after Prime Minister Jorge Bom Jesus announced at a press conference that his Government would send them to the justice system for clarification and potential administrative or criminal liability, according to Portuguese news agency Lusa.

The International Monetary Fund accused former Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada’s government of concealing various debts and expenditures worth 3.0% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), causing São Tomé and Príncipe’s debt to go “virtually out of control.”

“When we were here in April, we found that expenses of around 2% of GDP had not been entered in the accounts presented to us,” said Xiangming Li, head of the IMF mission to São Tomé and Príncipe, in remarks made last August.

The head of the mission said that the equivalent of 1.0% of GDP should be added to this 2.0%, resulting from loans taken out by public entities from commercial banks, “which made the country exceed the previously established reference indicator.” (Macauhub)