KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The government has instructed its representative on the board of directors of the Eastern Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC) to support the firm’s bid to purchase Bottlers (St. Vincent) Ltd.

Bottlers, makers of the soft drink “Ju-C”, remains closed almost one year after Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said last June that they were scheduled to reopen in last August.

He told a press briefing Tuesday that company owners had said that they would have recommenced operation last August because of a partnership with a Trinidadian entity.

Gonsalves said “Ju-c is a household name, … an important product” and a company in which the owners have invested.

He said he met Sunday with one of the firm’s shareholders and his lawyer and informed them of his instructions to the state’s director at ECGC.

Gonsalves further said that Osmond Davy, chief executive officer of ECGC, had informed him of the company’s intention to invest in Bottlers.

The government owns 20 per cent of ECGC and Gonsalves said that he agreed in principle to the move.

“I understand that the persons involved and their auditor in Bottlers Ltd. have made a presentation to the board of ECGC and there are some additional data which the board, and in particular one set of shareholders from ECGC, had requested,” he said.

“And I want to repeat that I am supporting the purchase of the shares,” he further said.

Eustace calls for severance payment

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace on Monday said that after almost one year it is time for former employees of Bottlers to be given their severance pay.

“I have been making some inquiries into the matter and it is something that needs to be dealt with,” he said.

“It is far too long now that this is outstanding …” he further stated, adding that some persons worked for the company for 30 years.

“Now is the time to deal with the workers. In fact, it has passed the time when they had the hope that the company was reopening last year August,” he further said.

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