Businessman Dave Ames, left, fled St. Vincent in June after he and his lawyer Samuel Commissiong, right, were summoned to court on several charges. (IWN photos)

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace said Monday that the latest fiasco surrounding businessman Dave Ames is another indication of government “incompetence”.

Ames, a Britain-born naturalised Vincentian fled St. Vincent and the Grenadines in June after the Crown summoned him to court to answer eight tax evasion and theft charges.

The Crown has also brought four tax evasion charges against Ames’ lawyer and company secretary, Vincentian Samuel Commissiong.

Speaking on his weekly radio programme on Monday, Eustace said that Ames is now a fugitive.

But he said that in addition to the allegations that aims failed to pay the state value-added tax and pay-as-you-earn taxes amounting to some EC$7 million, he or his business owes a number of business persons in SVG.

Ames is founder of Harlequin Hotels and Resorts, parent-company of Buccament Bay Resort Ltd. and Harlequin Property SVG Ltd.

Eustace said that he had written to   Buccament Bay Resort on behalf of a number of persons that the company owes.

Among these, he said, was a pineapple farmer that that resort had owed EC$1,500 for more than a year.

Eustace said the farmer was paid EC$500 after his letter.

“I wrote about other people down there but I remember this one in particular because the sum was so small and I thought it would have been easy for that farmer to get paid because the sum was so small,” Eustace said.

Wanted businessman Dave Ames left SVG legally after being summoned to court

He said that while it is true that workers at the resort have not been paid, this is also the case with businesses, adding, “A lot of questions arise.”

Eustace said there were allegations of bribery involving Ames and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, but added that they were never substantiated although questions were raised.

He also noted that Minister of Works and General Secretary of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP), Sen. Julian Francis had said that the resort is “a child of the ULP administration” that must be protected and that the resort went hand-in-hand with the Argyle International Airport project.

The airport has missed deadlines annually since 2011. It will also miss the July 2016 deadline, Gonsalves told a press conference on Monday.

Eustace said: “So what we see here is a connection between all these things. The government’s incompetence in organising our tourism product properly, the government’s incompetence in the matter of the airport… allegations of corruption … and when we look at the entire picture, we see a web of incompetence and corruption with a big red spider in the middle of the web. This government is incompetent; is unable to manage the affairs of the country.”

“The leader of the ULP, while he is a sweet talker, the fact remains that he can’t deliver the goods,” Eustace said.

He said the tourism and banana industries are shrinking, adding that there hasn’t been any export of the fruit to Europe from SVG for some time.

Eustace said that his New Democratic Party (NDP) will, in a few days, issue a statement on the banana industry.

“Nothing is going well,” he said, adding that while the government talks of a 2 per cent projected growth in the economy this year, the governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank had told the NDP that the projection is actually 0.6 per cent.

“I say to people it has been a long time but this country will be turned around by this same New Democratic Party. You will see growth, you will see development, you will see progress. This is what you will see,” Eustace said.

The ULP has been in office since March 2001. It secured a fourth consecutive term in office in the December 2015 general elections by winning eight of the 15 seats. The remaining seven went tot eh NDP in a repeat of the 2010 elections results.

6 replies on “Fiasco involving fugitive businessman shows gov’t ‘incompetence’ — Eustace”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    Talk, about hypocrisy! Under the NDP there was gross incompetence and possible bribery in regard to the Ottley Hall marina and Union Island development fiascos, a useless airport was built in Bequia and a hated and underused market tomb in Kingstown. And don’t forget the crazy traffic lights in Kingstown and many charges of abuse of office and law breaking by elected officials.

    As I never tire of saying, all a dem a de same.

  2. Jeannine James says:

    So the hypocrisy you claim has what effect on the present day reality and remedies it how? Should the people of SVG look the other way because of the charge of hypocrisy?

    In local parlance, “as we can’t do better, let worse continue”. Is that what you are leaning into C ben-David?

    1. C ben does not like either party. As I see it the name of the party does not matter. It is who is in charge. We have a labor party that destroys labor. Our PM has even said he has to raise taxes to create jobs!!!! He is supposed to have a degree in Economics! Truth is he sees that Government comes first; the rich come second and the people come last. Eustace will not be a fabulous leader but certainly far better than Ralph. Eustace and O’Neal are right, Gonsalves really is incompetent, that is clear! An honorable person would have resigned many times in the past decades. A person serving for wealth, power and a first-class lifestyle would not. So,….what leadership do we have in SVG?

    2. C. ben-David says:

      The same or worse will continue whether there is a change in government or not because nearly all elected officials over the decades have proven to have entered political life for self-serving reasons: the power, prestige, and perquisites of elected office.

      The NDP has proven to be very inept in opposition; how why would you expect it to be any better in power?

      The ULP has done little to uplift our people; indeed, it has done little more than enhance the power of the state while making our citizens increasing dependent on handouts.

      This is largely because we simply don’t have the environmental or other means to significantly raise our level and standard of living.

      All politicians and a good number of our people know this.

      This is why I keep saying all a dem a de same. They can’t and won’t act differently given our poor circumstances and developmental prospects.

  3. Soon after 2001 SVG has been sinking deeper into poverty and corruption has been getting worse. That is not to say it would have been better under Mitchell, (who destroyed agriculture). I am sure Eustace would be better than either. We need a leader that will not look the other way as the wealthy refuse to pay taxes. We need a leader that will not let the wealthiest pay no tax at all. Taxes need to be lowered for the entire working class. We need a leader that keeps their promises. Ralph Gonsalves promised mass jobs over 1 year ago. Where are they? He certainly is incompetent.

  4. We should all continue voting for Ralph. He looks like a leader. He looks good in an expensive suit. He has a twinkle in his eye. He talks tough. We don’t need jobs. The middle class can continue paying the highest percentage of their earnings to boost revenue. Roads are not important. We get lumber and cement every election year. He knows what to promise us and that is all that matters.
    Eustace on the other hand….He is not good looking. He does not have expensive suits. He wears glasses and does not have a twinkle in his eye. He does not talk tough but tells the truth. Does not make bold promises that he can’t keep. He was even accurate on what the airport was going to cost. What a loser. We don’t actually want to have to start working again when we can sit on our porch all day and steal from our neighbors for extra cash when needed. We live the good life. Ask Ames how nice it has been the past years.

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