More money will be spent and more employment generated as the Government nears completion of the EC$652 million (EC$1=US$0.37) Argyle International airport, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says.
“Mr Speaker, you are not going to have money being spent in a concentrated period on the airport as you are going to have in this last nine months, or thereabout, of the airport, because you are at a stage where now you have a lot of mass work to be done on the paving and the like. You have to employ a lot of people,” Gonsalves, told Parliament last week.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, said
300 Vincentians and 55 Cubans are employed on the project, a wage bill of some EC$300,000 per month.
He said that when the concrete batching plant and the asphalt plant are complete, even more Vincentians will be employed
“In fact, … the entire industrial sector will have 78 workers, 34-36 of them will be out of Cuba and the rest of them out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he told lawmakers.
Opposition lawmaker St. Clair Leacock told Parliament last week that more money was going to Cuba as a result of the construction of the airport than was remaining here.
But Gonsalves said the International Airport Development Company, the state firm overseeing the construction of the airport, employs 170 persons and the Taiwanese company that is building the terminal building hires a further 100.
“It is one of the biggest employers of labour in the country you know — the Argyle international airport,” he said.
“It is true to say that the truckers are not feeling it because it is cheaper for us to get the trucks and we got the trucks. What do you want us to do? Venezuela gave us a whole set of trucks. And some the trucks which are here … are too small to carry the kind of loads which are required out at Argyle,” he said.
“So when I hear this thing about people not employed at Argyle, it is roughly 300 Vincentians out there working. That is a significant number of people and you going have more as we go on,” Gonsalves further told Parliament.