“The evidence will be provided just now. They will see it.” — Eustace

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, left, and Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (montage image).
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, left, and Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (montage image).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 18, IWN – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace Monday responded to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ accusation that Eustace told two foreign journalists that an investor took a briefcase/suitcase of money to Gonsalves’ office and left without it.

“He is a liar,” Eustace said of the Prime Minister during his weekly programme on Nice Radio.

He, however, confirmed that he had given an interview to the BBC journalists who came here for four days last week as part of their investigation of Harlequin, the company that owns Buccament Bay Resort.

“Where could I get information of his accepting anything? I am saying that Gonsalves is a liar when it come to that,” Eustace said on “New Times”, a daily programme sponsored by his New Democratic Party.

“… I said nothing like that,” Eustace said of his interview with the British journalists.

“The evidence will be provided just now. They will see it,” Eustace, however, said.

Eustace had initially said he was not going to respond to the accusation before a press conference he announced for later this week.

“I am not going to have much to say because I intend to have a full-fledged press conference in a day or two. I like to have all my facts straight before I respond but I will say a few words about a couple of things from the last two days,” he said at the beginning of the programme.

He focused on the economy, saying it continues to decline and that he has not seen the growth in the banana industry being reported.

More and more businesses are in difficultly, the former prime minister and minister of finance said.

“And I am really concerned about the state of this economy and this society. We really have to take some positive action on the economic front in order to bring this country back to some sense of normalcy on the economic front.

“So, that is the big issue now, despite all the more sensational stuff that we are hearing about…

“Very often, we like to get carried away by the more sensational kind of news, but next morning after that news is gone, we are still where we are, and worse off. I am focusing, as much as we can, on both sides of the issues in terms of we need to get our economy going while we can deal with those issues at the same time. But we cannot forget the state of our economy…”

Eustace said he had previously mentioned on his programme the number of persons who the resort owes.

“Some people got a little of their money since that and they have called me once or twice on these matters but I am not satisfied the progress with which some people are paid.

“Somebody that is owed $1,500, you have to make more than one payment and you haven’t paid them for a year — a small farmer in the area? That is not good enough. You take people’s goods and service, you must pay for them, and especially when it is a small operation. They don’t have the cash to carry themselves,” he said on Monday.

Eustace further said farmers don’t have overdraft to pay bills and have to pay with what they earn.

He said people have contacted him about monies the resort owes them and he has forwarded that information to the resort.

“These are some of the things we face here on a daily basis and we can’t continue like that. … It is a very serious matter and we mustn’t forget it. We must bear it in mind when we are having these types of discussions. It is really, really tragic in many, many ways…” Eustace said.

Gonsalves said on WE FM on Sunday that two BBC journalists accosted him on an airplane in Barbados and accused him of taking money from Ames, which Gonsalves denied.

BBC journalist Paul Kenyon told I-Witness News on Sunday that he and another colleague approached Gonsalves on the aircraft.

“We had asked him for an interview before and he refused so we decided that we would tackle him on the airplane when it came to a halt…” Kenyon told I-Witness News.

“He responded by saying that the allegations were outrageous and he said we were not BBC journalists,” Kenyon said of Gonsalves.

Gonsalves said on Sunday that he told the journalists that he was unavailable for an interview before this Friday.

He left St. Vincent Sunday for the CARICOM heads of Government meeting in Haiti and will return on Thursday.