Argyle International Airport.

The US$16 million loan that the government will on Monday ask Parliament to approve for the Argyle International Airport was in the Budget that lawmakers passed in January, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told I-Witness News on Sunday.

“All I am doing now is getting the approval,” Gonsalves told I-Witness News.

Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, said the monies are being borrowed from the United Kingdom government.

He said that under the arrangement, the International Airport Development Company, the state-owned firm responsible for the construction of the airport, is eligible for a refund of US$5.7 million from the US$16 million loan.

He said that half of the loan is for equipment purchased or sourced for the terminal building at the

EC$729 million airport is expected to be completed this year, after missing completion deadlines annually since 2011.

The other half of the loan will pay for equipment such as the concrete batching plant purchased for the airport.

Gonsalves said the equipment for the terminal building was never included in the EC$200 million loan that lawmakers authorized in 2013.

On Aug. 4, lawmakers gave the government permission to borrow EC$13 million to go toward the completion of the airport.

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace spoke of the US$16 million loan at a campaign rally in Mayreau Saturday night.

Speaking at a town hall meeting on the southern Grenadine island, Eustace 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.”

But Gonsalves told I-Witness News that opposition lawmakers do not read the Estimates of Income and Expenditure.

“They go on about all sorts of things but don’t read the Estimates properly,” he told I-Witness News.

In his Budget Speech to Parliament in January, Gonsalves said planned expenditure on airport development at Argyle for 2015 totals $74.7 million.

He said the estimated cost of the airport’s construction has been put at approximately EC$729 million, about EC$189 million of which represent in-kind contributions.

6 replies on “US$16 million airport loan is in the 2015 Budget — PM Gonsalves”

  1. Is there any end to this borrowing? Anybody knows? There are far richer countries in the Caribbean who are much more disciplined in their approach to financing airport infrastructure. We are such a poor country. Where is the discipline? What makes us so special and exceptional that we can keep borrowing like there is no tomorrow? What specific purpose is this additional money for? Anybody knows? Seeing that this is money that the public has to pay back, are the IADC’s spending records publicly available? Anybody knows?

  2. Patrick Ferrari says:

    It is not a loan, and they are not borrowing. They are increasing the value, by US$16 million, of the “crown jewel” at Arnos Vale that is going to pay for the airport.

  3. Let me again emphatically state , that if the NDP in its 17 years governing St. Vincent & the Grenadines , had built an Airport , it would have cost much less than Argyle , and SVG would have been much more advanced . But History informs us that the Members of the NDP did
    not build an International Airport .

    The fact is that the Members of the NDP had absolutely no consideration for the people who live in the Diaspora , and the plight that they encounter at the Sir Grantley Adams Airport , while in transit to SVG . I state to suggest that all those who are now braying about the cost of the Argyle International Airport need to remember that the NDP had a golden Airport to build
    an International Airport , but it was apparently not concerned with building an International Airport .

    Because the NDP did not build an International Airport , it in essence retarded progress in SVG . Had the NDP built an International Airport , there would be more hotels on the mainland
    and in the Grenadines . Frankly SVG would have been more developed . My advice to the NDP & its Supporters is to stop whining , YOU had your chance ; and did nothing . Therefore
    it is fair to state that it is the NDP’s fault why years later the Argyle Airport is costly .

    Now all the above aint a figment of my Imagination , 17 years in Office , and absolutely no thought about building an International Airport for the people of St. Vincent & the Grenadines
    while the people in the Diaspora have to put up with the Uncouth Louts in Barbados who relish telling Passengers going to SVG that all the seats in LIAT are filled ;when the truth is the plane had empty Seats . All this chicanery to ensure that in transit Passengers have to overnight in Barbados .

    The people in the Diaspora may not live in SVG , but they send a lot of Remittances & Goods
    to SVG . That being the case , their interest , also demands primary consideration by whatever Party is in the governance of St. Vincent & the Grenadines , especially in Air Transportation .

    VERIDICAL

  4. Whether the loan was earmarked in the budget or not, the main issues in this whole airport fiasco remain as follows:

    1. Why does SVG need a new international airport? This question has never been answered with credible data. As I have argued, there is much data suggesting that SVG does not need a new international airport.

    2. Can SVG afford a new international airport? This question has never been answered with credible data. Many obervers, myself included, have pointed out that we cannot afford to pay for or service this airport.

    3. Will the spin-off tourist and other revenue earned from bringing more people, goods, and services to SVG come close to paying for the airport’s annual operational costs and long term debt? This questions has never been answered with credible data. The experience of other Caribbean airports in countries with a much better tourist product suggest that the airport’s annual operating costs will never be met, even with sky-high landing and departure fees, and that the long term debts will never be able to be paid.

  5. Ralph is trying to blame the NDP for the delay in opening the airport in 2015. He should and must provide all financial documents the NDP has been demanding for several years. He must prove to the NDP and the people of SVG why he should be trusted with more money to put in this sink hole. There is no end to his scheme to blame others for his lack of foresight in planning and building a project this size. This airport wasn’t supposed to cost Vincentians a dime, yet know he’s asking again for more money to waste on this white elephant. Like the Zion-I said, “Not a cent for this government”

    Some folks in the DIASPORA only think about themselves and not the suffering the people have to endure since the construction started. In the DIASPORA, our medical needs are taken care of by the government, while the SVG people have to take even toilet paper to the hospital. School children have to stand in school due to the lack of chairs and we had an educational revolution. In the last 2 weeks we had an additional 2 murders and nothing from our security chief on ways to combat crime in SVG. Going through Barbados is not as bad as losing a leg because of the lack of medical resources on the island.
    Many people just want to accept every lie that comes out of Ralph’s mouth. They even arrange a rape rally to accuse the police woman of lying, when he was accused of raping her. He has destroyed the banana industry and the island economy and they clap. The Grenadines airport could have been used for this International airport; instead Ralph had to build it in his backyard. I am more convinced that ET would have been the best location and cheaper for an airport.

  6. I respectfully disagree with those who questions whether or not we need an international airport. I have come to realize that many people who criticize the airport do not understand the value that an international airport can bring to your country. I have lived in a country where I have seen how an international airport has transformed an economy over 15 years. Don’t just criticize the airport because you don’t like ULP or NDP. Your criticism should be based on facts. We are loosing out of significant trade opportunities, investment and tourist dollars because we do not have an international airport. An international airport is the avenue for investors to come into your country. You don’t have to look to far across the region to see how well the countries with proper international airports are doing. You cannot attract investments into a country without proper infrastructure. Look at the airport objectively.

Comments are closed.