KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Venezuela is yet to repay the government any of the monies paid to Cuban workers on the Argyle International Airport, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament on Thursday.
Gonsalves, responding to a question from Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, said that from July 2008 to July 2011 his government has paid EC$8.78 million in such wages.
He said that on average, Kingstown pays EC$368,572 per month to the Cuban workers.
The monies came loans from the PetroCaribe Fund, EC$7 million from the National Properties Ltd.’s sale of the Reigate Building and EC$20 million from the EC$42 million the government received after privatising the former National Commercial Bank.
Cuba and Venezuela are among the “coalition of the willing” nation contributing to the construction of the EC$652 million airport, expected in 2013.
Gonsalves said that Caracas has permitted Kingstown to borrow from the PetroCaribe Fund monies for the airport. His government has borrowed EC$27 million and has repaid E$2 million of it.
“We fully anticipate that by the end of the project, all necessary conciliations will be made,” said Gonsalves who is also Minister of Finance.
He said that the stipend paid to the Cuban volunteers by the state-owned International Airport Development company (IADC) “is only a fraction of what they would normally command if they were hired as workers in the open job market.”
Gonsalves further reiterated that while the IADC has spend EC$28 million on earth work at the airport the value of work done was $180, nearly seven times what was spent.