E.T. Joshua Airport. (Internet photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, on Friday, denied that his government has sold any of the lands at the decommissioned E.T. Joshua Airport, but urged local investors to take advantage of the opportunities there.

The Unity Labour Party administration has announced its intentions to build a new city at the airport site, but, so far, only Trinidadian Derek Chin, chair of MovieTowne, has expressed interest in the site.

“And I’m hoping that as a consequence of this conversation that interested local investors would come,” Gonsalves said on Boom FM on Friday.

“You know, I find that too many times that we put these calls out and a number of local investors they just hang back. It’s like many of them hang back when we are talking about — local and even regional — about buying equipment for the ground handling out at Argyle and building the cargo terminal. But we eventually went and did all of those things…”

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The government has said monies from land sales at the old airport would to help repay the EC$400 million debt left by the construction of the EC$700 million Argyle International Airport.

Gonsalves spoke of the types of developments he would like to see at Arnos Vale.

“I want to see some of the kind of things we are talking about — Derek Chin from Trinidad. And he not only has stuff in Trinidad, he is finishing a complex in Guyana, and I understand he wants to go to Grenada. He is talking there, so he is, obviously, building out a regional brand. And apartment complexes, offices, shops – you know what I mean. But I need to have a magnet, which grounds it, and the big magnet, which is grounding that is the acute referral hospital. Well, that is one big magnet, but you need to have a couple of them. At least, that is the concept.”

Gonsalves said that it was “absolutely not” the case that his government has sold the lands at the airport, as the host of the programme said was claimed on another radio programme.

“The only thing which we have firmed up, thus far, in respect of Arnos Vale is where a World Bank study had identified eight acres to have the acute referral hospital, about 130 beds, a lot of tertiary health care, secondary ones too,” Gonsalves said.

He said that there is also a soft loan under the Regional Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project programme with the World Bank where a design of the hospital is in process.

Six entities have applied to do the design and one will be selected, Gonsalves said.

“I don’t deal with that. They just tell me which one has been selected because we do these things by an independent tendering process and in conjunction, in this case, the World Bank.”

Gonsalves said the entire package, including the design and site identification, would be delivered to the government within two years.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

He said he is trying to identify possible sources of financing.

“I don’t know the ballpark figure yet, but you begin to tease it out,” he said, adding that he is hoping to get the bulk of the financing from the World Bank.

He said his government, however, has a memorandum of understanding with Derek Chin in relation to consideration for an entire complex, including a plaza, MovieTowne, and a boutique hotel.

“These are the concepts which we are talking about but nothing has been agreed upon because there are some practical things.”

Gonsalves said a lot of money is going to be spent on infrastructure, including the construction and installation of roads, electricity, sewerage systems, drains, telecommunications systems, and water, in keeping [with] the master plan.

“And the details of that, who to finance what and so on, obviously, the optimal way to do that is if we have the money that we, ourselves, can do all those things so that when people come along, we have expended a certain amount of money and we say, ‘Well, look, this is what is involved.’”

Gonsalves said the MOU that his government has signed with Chin is “non-binding”.

“It doesn’t have, it doesn’t create, legal relations. It is where people are sitting down, exploring, talking about this matter and that we have an understanding that we will continue to talk in these terms. But there are lot of details to be hammered out and I wanted to make sure that we have a framework for all those details, and I have somebody to help me drive the process.”

3 replies on “Lands at ET Joshua Airport not sold; PM urges local investment”

    1. C. ben-David says:

      No duty, no taxes unless people come and stay here for several days for reasons other than buying cheap stuff.

      Since there would be no other reason to stay here, they they would just bite and run like a mad dog and we will only be left with more injuries to nurse.

  1. Our PM wonders why the local investors do not “jump” and invest where he advises. Ask Ken Boyea about that one. The fact is that local investors have a better feel for business than the foreigners. I have far more trust in advice from Greaves and others than I do in our PM. How many very successful foreigners have come here and failed or sometimes lost everything? ummm, all of them! Who wants to come to a country (the main island) where virtually everything has to be imported and yet pay the highest Customs Duty Taxes in the world? One of the highest Corporate Income Taxes in the world? Those are just a few of the problems. Gonsalves has to wake-up and realize that he can’t fool people into investing as easily as he can fool (some of them) into voting for their own poverty. Investors are often more savy than a shoeless crowd of zombies. We will never have major investment in SVG until investors have better reasons to come here instead of to go bankrupt. Sure, as they say “There is a sucker born every minute”, but do we really want only the “suckers” to come to SVG, let alone “sucker” the local investors into collapse? The government will get lots of money in the initial investment but in the long term lose more than they would if they would instead create a sustainable investment environment.

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