ST. VINCENT: – Leader of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), Arnhim Eustace says that his party has in fact negotiated with foreign investors 10 projects that will employ at least 20,000 persons.
On Wednesday, Eustace said Armajaro, “a major commodities and financial services group”, will work with an NDP administration to finance Vincentians farmers “from scratch” in setting up a cocoa industry.
He said the company will pay for “clearing the land, providing start-up capital to grow cocoa, they will supply the new varieties as well as technical assistance and propagation units and fermentation bins. They will then also guarantee the sale price,” Eustace said.
“I’m talking about supporting entire communities; rural communities. And, what’s more, we are confident that a project of this nature will also be supported by the European Union,” added Eustace, a banana farmer.
NDP founder and former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell has said that Armajaro executives will come to St Vincent, on Sunday to meet with farmers interested in diversifying into cocoa.
Eustace fist spoke of the investments last Saturday, Dec. 4, saying that the project will come only if Vincentians elect the NDP to office in the general elections next Monday, Dec. 13.
“I have in my hand here the concrete, funded plans for hundreds of millions of dollars of international investment that will flood into this country if an NDP administration is voted into power on December the 13th,” Eustace said on Saturday.
He said the projects relate to construction, hospitality, banking, aircraft registration, seaport improvement, technology, and agriculture and include “a major international construction group” partnering with an NDP government “to finally get the Argyle airport into a state of readiness”.
Eustace further said that he could not divulge the name of the investors involved because of confidentiality agreements.
But Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, told reporters on Tuesday that Eustace’s announcement was “bogus” and that there can be no secrecy surrounding election proposals.
“In government, there will be national security secrets. In government, there will be commercial confidentiality on certain matters. But surely, there cannot be in terms of a programme for an election, secrecy or confidentiality. That will be a bogus claim by people who want to pull the wool over our eyes,” Gonsalves said.
“…it is a fiction. They have no company,” Gonsalves further said.
“…Nobody comes at 2:30 on an afternoon to make an announcement about a policy change. A policy change … of this nature, that is something that would have been in the works and which we would have heard talked about,” Gonsalves added.
However, Eustace said on Wednesday that the Prime Minister’s comments were “typical” of Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party (ULP).
“Well, I’ve got news for you Ralph Gonsalves. These projects are real. They are financed and they will create thousands and
thousands of jobs, up to 20,000 in total,” Eustace said.
“…I suggest you put your own personal craving for power to one side for a moment and hear the huge benefit these projects will bring to this country,” added Eustace, a former prime minister.
Eustace said he had spoken to the companies during the 24 hours before the press conference and can name the others only if an NDP government is elected to office.
He said the international construction company has a turnover of US$1.5 billion annually and has the capacity to complete the Argyle international airport.
He said that company has built major infrastructure projects, including hundreds of kilometres of roads, highways, railways, and tunnels, in addition to dams, large arched bridges, and a major international airport, and public buildings and commercial centres in the Middle East, East Africa, and America.
Eustace said the NDP has negotiated with a banking group that has “an impeccable reputation and experience in retail banking”.
The former minister of finance and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) executive said the baking company’s annual turnover exceeds US$15 billion and has “a substantial, above-industry standard capital reserve”.
Regarding the seaport facility, Eustace said the potential investor have arranged for their own engineers to come to St Vincent at their own cost and make necessary studies for any future development of such ports.
He further said the “approximately US$200 million helps you realize this importance” of a proposed 1000-unit resort/residential development project to be undertaking in St Vincent.
“From the job perspective, this is an absolute win-win situation for St Vincent as we will be able to use our beautiful land for a new area of development with secure jobs and prosperity for the long-term,” Eustace said.
Eustace said the investors were “standing by and are ready to proceed,” adding, “Only the NDP will do this.”
He said the projects will initially deliver over 5,000 jobs, adding “This is just the start.”
Eustace further said he is not surprised that the investors will not deal with Gonsalves.
“I don’t want to deal with him any longer either and I believe the people of this country feel the same,” Eustace said.
“It is a fact that the projects I outlined last Saturday will begin immediately if an NDP government is elected on December the 13th. It is a fact that the companies involved will not invest this money if Ralph Gonsalves remains Prime Minister or if the Unity Labour Party is re-elected into power,” Eustace further said.