Argyle International Airport as seen in a recent aerial photo by Jonathan Palmer.

Venezuela has contributed more than US$85 million (EC$228 million) to the EC$700 million international airport being constructed at Argyle, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has noted.

The oil-rich South American has been accused of not living up to a promise Gonsalves said it had made about paying the wages of Cubans working on the project.

But Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, said this week that the airport project has received US$50 million in loans from the ALBA Bank at 2 per cent interest for 20 years.

“When you get money like that, it’s almost a grant,” he said at the inauguration of a US$32 million fuel depot at Lowmans Bay, built with PetroCaribe funds.

He said that US$25 million have gone into the airport from PetroCaribe, Venezuela’s oil initiative with several Caribbean and Latin American countries.

That money, including the grace period, is 25 years at one per cent interest, Gonsalves said.

“So that is seventy-five million U.S. dollars. And then we got at the very beginning to start the project, equipment valued at 10 million U.S. dollars,” he said.

He noted that Venezuela also set up the laboratory to conduct soil and other tests at the airport.

“This friendship is not only in money and men and in equipment, not only in cash and kind and in technical people, also advice and support and solidarity,” Gonsalves said.

The airport, which has been billed as the largest capital project in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has missed several completion deadlines since 2011. It is now scheduled to become operational in October.

Gonsalves, who is 69, noted the debate about when the airport will be completed.

He said that statistically, he has about five years left to live, adding that the airport is “not for this year or next year. It is not for Ralph’s lifetime”.

“I am building it for as long as SVG exists,” he said.

5 replies on “Venezuela has contributed $228m to SVG’s $700m airport — PM Gonsalves”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    The are loans, not grants, that will have to be paid back to a post-Bolivarian revolution government. Five, ten, twenty-five years from now, this airport will still be a festering sore at Argyle.

  2. Every Monday morning the PM Telling lies. Stop it man, just stop it. Venezuela gave us loans, and loans are not the same as grants. What kind of nonsense is that, a loan is something you pay back a grant is basically free money. Interest rates is not the only different between a loan and a grant. Vincentians are the one who are building the Airport, give us the damn credit instead of trying to give it other people who you want to make friends with. Vincentians are being taxed to death to build the airport, the least you can do is acknowledge our sacrifice.

  3. Has anyone ever noticed how Gonsalves is fighting one crisis after another, and if you analyze each one they all have some element of evil attached to them. So every so often to lead people away from the present crisis he throws into the arena some nonsense item like this, to try and lead people minds in a different direction, from crisis to silliness.

    The man caught in London travelling on a Vincentian diplomatic passport whilst carrying a kilo of cocaine
    Charges of rape and another sexual charge
    The million US$s in a bag fiasco
    The gold rush at banks in SVG to bank US dollar bills
    His son Camillo being very silly with the New York police
    The Green Card fiasco.
    Dodgy passports
    Loss of non visa entry into Canada for Vincentians
    Failing to pay the NIS
    Taking a loan from the NIS to pay the NIS
    Failing to fund the agricultural sector to a degree to sustain it
    Failing to fund the spraying against Black Sigatoka
    Failing to oversee or arrange funding in good time and install river defenses at Buccament the inactions of which resulted in death and destruction
    The continuing nonsense about the coalition of the willing, a bunch of countries that between them have not donated in money and kind more than $25 million
    The paying of the Cubans wages that we were told the Venezuelans were paying them
    The support of Elson Cricks attack on a sexual abuse against a women, perhaps before it develops into rape accusations.

    There are simply thousands of would be crisis eruptions, that are watered down by simply confusing the minds of the ignorant, by quickly introducing crap into the equation.

    This statement about a commercial loan with 2 % interest being like a grant, you cannot get a sillier statement than that. It evidences the utterances of a fiscal dunce. It can be no wonder at all that we are a bankrupt third world country, when we have a leader like Gonsalves and his dream team, or should we say his team of dreamers who have presented us with nightmares on a weekly basis.

    A commercial loan of $50 million dollars, repaid in 20 years with compound interest brings forth a sum to be repaid of about $80 million dollars. Is that in any shape or form like a grant, free money?

    But Gonsalves knows that, this statement was designed as a smoke screen for him to slide into, in an attempt to hide from the Crick matter, which has done him more damage than anything he has ever said or done before.

  4. Congratulations Jonathon, a great areal picture, the runway really looks like it has had about a mile and a half of tarmac laid.

    As you all may know I have been away for three weeks, travelling through Europe and ending up in Canada. Well I got back yesterday, and could see the airport from the aircraft window. I had already seen Mr Palmers photo, so I was intrigued to see the actual thing from the air. I went to Argyle yesterday afternoon, dressed and looking like a Cuban foreman, I was given a ride in a tipper lorry to the approach end of the runway. I got out after travelling the length of the site. I strode with an authoritative gambit onto what looks like tarmac, it’s not. They have sprayed the gravel with what is known as a colas type bitumen solution. It’s only gravel sprayed black it’s not tarmac at all.

    I just hope that this photo was not given to the King of Morocco, so to be sure I have sent him a copy along with a written explanation.

    There is no claim in this article about the tarmac, so I suppose we were left to form our own opinion that it had been tarmac topped and was finished. I am sure everyone who saw the photo, and even looked at it from the air, believed as I did, it was a finished stretch or runway, and marveled at the progress.

    So marvel not, it’s a trick of the eye believing what the brain thinks it sees, we only “see” after our brains interpret what’s sent to them from our eyes. Happens all the time with the ULP.

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