KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said that he found the timing of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ recent 15-day trip to Bethlehem, Georgia, and Azerbaijan to be “peculiar”.
Eustace told I-Witness News on Sunday that while he did not hear Gonsalves’ press conference last week detailing the outcome of the visits, the trip came even as some Vincentians were not paid their wages.
“What I found peculiar about the rip at this point in time [is that] it has come at a time when a number of persons working in public sector were having difficulties with the payment of their wages that were owed to them, especially coming on to Christmas,” Eustace said of the Dec. 17 to Jan. 03 trip.
“And I think that a lot more effort should have been made to ensure that people did get their payments on time and if it is a matter of a few hundred thousand dollars more to ensure that people get their payment I think it should have been done,” he said.
Eustace said that such visits are not cheap and that he suspects that a special warrant had to be issued to accommodate it.
“I figure those resources could have been put to better use to ensure that payments were in fact made so that people could get their payments on time for Christmas,” he further emphasised.
Gonsalves was accompanied on the trip by his wife Eloise and a member of his security detail. His son Storm Gonsalves was also a part of the delegation but Gonsalves is said to have funded, in a personal capacity, all expenses related to his son.
The Prime Minister participated in midnight at Bethlehem at the invitation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and had discussions about developmental issues with the governments of the three countries.
He told journalists here last week that the international airport being build at Argyle and the education and tourism sectors are expected to benefit from the trip.