The Ralph Gonsalves government will on Monday ask Parliament to authorise the borrowing of a further US$16 million to go toward the long-delayed Argyle International Airport, Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace says.
The loan comes just two months after lawmakers gave the government permission to borrow EC$13 million to go toward the completion of the EC$700 million project, which has missed annual completion deadlines since 2011.
It is also coming two years after Parliament gave the government permission to borrow EC$208 million which then Minister of Works, Sen. Julian Francis said was necessary to finish the airport.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has said that the airport will be completed and operational by the end of this year.
However, the parliamentary opposition has dismissed that timeline as intended to fool voters ahead of general elections, expected by year-end.
Eustace told a town hall meeting of his New Democratic Party (NDP) in Mayreau Saturday night about the latest loan that will be brought to Parliament.
“You might not know that Monday morning when the Parliament opens, the Prime Minister is bringing another bill … for 16 million more US dollars for the airport,” he said.
Eustace expressed hope that the NDP team that is in the Southern Grenadines for a series of campaign events could get back to Kingstown in time for the debate.
The high-speed ferry that travels between Kingstown and the Southern Grenadines is said to have developed problems on Friday.
“I hope we can get the ferry up in time to get in the Parliament,” Eustace said.
He expressed concerns about the government’s handling of the international airport project, which has been a central plank of the 2005 and 2010 general elections.
“We don’t have an account, we are not being told about the amount of money that is being spent so far and those who have not yet been paid who the government owe,” he said.
Eustace also suggested that he did not have all the details about the latest loan.
“We haven’t even seen the document because we left St. Vincent Friday to come down to go to the Grenadines. The document came after we left … but I know some of what is in it, because my secretary called me and I told her to read out for me certain things so I can have an idea,” he said.
“That’s a lot of money. There are 61 families whose lands were taken away since 2008 who have not yet get paid for their lands. Sixty-one families. That’s millions of dollars,” he said.
“So what I want is an account of all that is taking place because you can’t just approve loan after loan after loan without getting a proper record of what has been spent.”
Eustace, however, did not say if opposition lawmakers will support the loan, as it did the one on Aug. 5.
Political observers say that the Gonsalves administration has cornered the opposition, which came out in support of the airport in 2010.
They say it would be interesting to see how the opposition will vote on Monday in light of their support of the EC$13 million loan in August.
Mr PM while you are at it seek permission to borrow the money to pay the teachers and public servants the one off salary.As it says it is just a one off salary and is only for this period.Show us how much Labour really loves the working people of SVG.Let us see that you are really concern about them.Right now it seems like your only interest is to open the incomplete Argyle Airport intime before the electorates go to the polls so that the ULP will get 4 in a row.So it seems like it,s all about your dynasty.
Surely the opposition regrets its craven decision to support building the airport in 2010 after rightly rejecting the project for years.
This $US16 loan will soon be followed by the borrowing of tens of millions more. The completion of the airport is still a long way off; making the airport “operational” is even further removed in time; a “fully operating” and commercially viable airport — one that receives enough regularly scheduled international flights to make its operation successful — whose costs are eventually paide out of the profits made from international mainland tourism spin-offs is a dream that will never come true.
As I have argued in 16 essays posted on this site (https://www.iwnsvg.com/2015/07/20/phony-airport-completion-election-promises-vincy-style/), the Argyle International Airport project will turn out to be among the biggest political hoaxes in Caribbean history.
The best the opposition can do at this point is abstain on motions for more loans and start asking tougher questions in the House.
Why are we not getting free money from the ghost coalition as we were promised. Nothing is free from the Cubans they have taken 10 years to finish a 3 year project. The Venezuelans according to Gonsalves promised to pay the Cubans wages, they have not paid a cent or even a red cent. That was either a lie on the part of Gonsalves or they reneged on the deal and damaged our country in doing so. Yes we have had money from PetroCaribe but it is a loan not a grant.
If they had not spent government money to buy goods from Tank Weld in Jamaica to give away as an incentive to vote ULP they would not need this present loan.
Mark my words, if Gonsalves and the ULP are re-elected the first thing they will do is borrow the multi millions that they still need to finish the airport, $16 million is just enough to get by until after the elections.
If this lunatic regime are re-elected things will get real hard next term because they will have to put the screws on big time.
They claim that this international airport is to be scheduled for completion and be operational by end of this year, yet money is still been borrowed to aid it’s financing? This is getting rediculous now, seriously. How much more will this country have to suffer economically and socially at the cost of “trying” to complete this project? #Concerned
Since the airport will be open this year, can the authority inform the public which airlines have committed to use it.
I am a travel agent and will love to inform my client on the cost and schedules to travel to St. Vincent for the Christmas holidays.
Also, is the Canouan airport still operating?
This thing is like a runaway train and when it finally crashes its not going to be pretty. I’m sorry but I was one of the blind ones in times gone by. I can see clearly now.
When should we expect a report from the Auditor General on the use of the IADC’s financing?
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