The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]

Ralph E. Gonsalves Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the grenadines has taken it upon himself to be the supporting warrior for everything LIAT.

I for one am sick and tired of the man running around the region, the Caribbean, and the world poking his nose into other peoples business, just for the sake of promoting himself, attempting to elevate himself into someone influential and someone powerful.

He pokes his nose into other peoples politics, he pokes his nose into other peoples business. Yet at home I would consider him a political and financial failure — a fiscal dunce. It’s time he stayed at home and did the job he is being paid for and stop interfering and poking his nose everywhere but where it should be. Stop being a hypocrite.

He has now decided that the Trinidadians are running their airline with the advantage of subsidised fuel, and he wants to stop it. This is of course a hypocritical point of view when you examine the subsidised situation that LIAT enjoy, and also our proposed new air partner Conviasa Air, a company swimming in subsidies.

LIAT is subsidised with huge amounts of cash by the shareholding governments. SVG has given LIAT multi-millions of dollars over the last 12 years, in fact $16 or $20 million at a clip every year.

Wasn’t that unfair competition when Caribbean Star was trying to compete, isn’t that an unfair practice to inflict on our tiny airlines who struggle to keep flying? SVG Air and Mustique Air are excluded from the SVG share out with LIAT, should they sue the government?

Then we are about to go into business with Venezuela’s state airline Conviasa. They receive cash subsidies from the state and also only pay 20 cents a gallon for their fuel.

They will be our flag carrier, our main international air carrier, because that’s ALBA policy and no one else wants to fly the route. Besides swimming in subsidies, Conviasa is one of the world’s worst airlines.

In April 2012 Conviasa Air was banned from European Union airspace, the airline was placed on the European black list because of “numerous safety concerns arising from accidents and the results of ramp checks at EU airports”.

Caribbean Airlines (The Trinidad and Tobago national airline), has direct flights to and from Miami, New York, Ft Lauderdale, Orlando, Toronto, London, Caracas, Georgetown, Kingston, Paramaribo, Barbados, and other Caribbean islands. Besides the subsidies, they are just better at what they do. Instead of joining with the ultra, ultra-subsidised Venezuelan Conviasa, perhaps we should join with Caribbean Airlines. Trinidad and Tobago is not a communist country, but perhaps the Comrade could forgive them for that.

If UK and US airlines use the SVG route, they will call for a US$200 dollar a seat subsidy, will we refuse to pay that because it gives us an unfair advantage? Will we?

Now, if Trinidad stops their fuel subsidy and instead gives their airline a bigger cash subsidy, is that OK? But isn’t it the same thing?

Conviasa, with its state subsidies and 20 cents a gallon fuel, will we insist that they stop receiving subsidies because its unfair to our competitors? No! Of course not! And that’s where the hypocrisy really kicks in.

Of course it gets worse, the new international airport at Argyle will require up to $20

million a year in subsidies to be able to just stay open. Is that unfair?

Well I am going to give PM Gonsalves yet another name, a label, “THE SUBSIDY KID”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see “THE SUBSIDY KID” just ride into the sunset.

Peter Binose
Self-appointed keeper of the whistle

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

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