The debate of the Geothermal Resources Bill degenerated on Tuesday when Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves mentioned U.S.-based Garifuna leader professor Wellington Ramos as Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace was on the floor.
Ramos has been the subject of some discussion after he made a one-week visit to St. Vincent earlier this month to hold talks with Eustace about the New Democratic Party’s proposal to make all Garifuna honorary citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
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“When Emera and Reykjavik set the rate of return that they expect on their return, let us all hope that we know and are told what this rate of return is because they have already shown their preference and what role they will play or seem to want to pay in the Caribbean in the future.
“And if we can’t meet the rate of return that they expect, I hope they are not coming for VINLEC,” Eustace said.
“If Ramos in power they will get VINLEC,” Gonsalves said from across the floor.
VINLEC is the state-owned and sole electricity company in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Ramos is in your craw. Let me tell you something, in your craw,” Eustace responded.
“Let me tell you this, this is a serious matter. Emera is already indicating clearly that they need to get their rate of return on their investment and they want back to earn their money.”
Gonsalves responded by saying that Ramos is not in his craw, adding, “You said you want to privatise VINLEC. I say no.”
But Eustace noted that Emera bought the electricity company in Barbados.
“We have to be careful that Emera does not own VINLEC. That is what I want to leave with the public today, that this exercise where we are totally dependent on the private sector doesn’t leave us exposed to the point where one day they get VINLEC,” Eustace said.
“Absolutely not!” Gonsalves told Parliament.
“This is another NCB! This is another one coming to you now!” Eustace said in reference to the former state-owned commercial bank of which the government sold 51 per cent in 2010.
“Rubbish! Rubbish!” Gonsalves said.
“Put your foot in and you can’t get it out. You are totally dependent now on these people in terms of the future role that this project will take,” Eustace said.
“You really don’t know De Comrade,” Gonsalves said to the Opposition Leader.
Eustace responded: “I know what he has in his craw.”