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The scene where the rally is scheduled to take place later today — Saturday. (iWN photo)

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Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday is asking questions about who will finance the event later today (Saturday) to mark the one-year anniversary of the opening of Argyle International Airport.

The event at Johnson Hill, Argyle, is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. and is expected to hear addresses from public servants and politicians.

The featured speaker is Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, whose Unity Labour Party administration opened the EC$700 million airport on Feb. 14 last year — six years behind schedule.

Other speakers include Director of Airports, Corsel Robertson, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sir Louis Straker, Minister of Tourism Cecil McKie, Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, and Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves.

Speaking Wednesday at an event to commission the “Vinci Love” chandelier donated to mark the first anniversary of the airport, Gonsalves said that while the event will be held at Johnson Hill, some persons would not remember what that area looked like before the area was built.

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His comment was part of his narrative about the topographical and financial challenges that his government had to overcome to build the airport.

Meanwhile, at a press conference in Kingstown on Friday, the opposition leader said that that he understands that today’s event is “going to be some sort of a show”.

“I don’t know to what extent. The question I am going to ask is this… who’s paying for this extravaganza? “That is the question. Who is paying for it?”

He noted that when the airport opened last year, the government arranged chartered flights from Canada and New York and Head of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache had expressed confidence that the flight would have sold out within an hour of tickets going on sale.

“As we found out, taxpayers paid over EC$700,000 for that exercise in publicity for the ULP government,” Friday said.

“That’s basically what it was. So the question that I’m asking today, ‘Are taxpayers going to be made to pay the bill for this extravaganza that they are planning out at Argyle tomorrow?’

“That is a relevant question given the fact that for the third straight year in a row that VAT has been increased on the people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; more taxes have been imposed, given the fact that we have serious hardships in the economy of this country.

We need to know, to ensure that government’s money is not wasted on a bashment that is basically just a political advertisement for the Unity Labour Party and part of their campaigning.

“So who is going to pay for that?”

Vinlec employees service streetlights along the route to the rally on Saturday. (IWN Photo)

The opposition says that it considers an increase in value added tax for a third consecutive year, the announcement by the government that beginning May 1 VAT on domestic consumption of electricity will kick in at 150 kilowatt-hours per month, rather than the 200 kilowatt-hours, as is currently the case.

Opposition lawmakers have not been invited to the event, suggesting that it will have a strong, partisan tone to it.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves might have hinted at the flavour of today’s event when he declined to call, at Wednesday’s event, the name of “one leader with whom I disagree profoundly” who had said that something must have been wrong when the European Union, the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank, Canada, the United States, and other traditional partners did not help with the financing of the airport.

“Might call his name on Saturday night,” Gonsalves said.

But even as the prime minister declined to venture into partisan politics at Wednesday’s event, Arlette Miller, customer service officer at Argyle International Airport showed no such restraint.

“And even though ‘Vincy Love’ may originate with you, we do have one here. It’s Laboooour— It’s Labour Love! Labour Love! We do have one here,” she said after Trinidadian Carlos Leon Manickchand had explained the concept behind the “Vinci Love” chandelier.

8 replies on “Who’s paying for AIA anniversary ‘bashment’? — Friday”

  1. Of course, this is a partisan political event celebrating the first anniversary of an airport that would never fulfill its primary purpose, as enunciated by Dr. Gonsalves in 2005: to stimulate the arrival of tens of thousands of new foreign tourists who would never otherwise travel here because of the alleged inconvenience of having to connect through Barbados or other Caribbean hubs, an assumption that has no basis in reality and, hence, will never be proven to be true as my 69 AIA essays have conclusively shown ( ).

    AIA is bleeding taxpayer money every day it operates from the perspective of its value-added economic effects on the economy as a whole.

    This bleeding will never stop.

    The only treatment, a band-aid one at best, is unending transfusions of cash from a depleted treasury (hence requiring more loans thereby increasing our national deficits and debts) that could be more productively spent elsewhere.

    So, let us celebrate tonight and bleed some more tomorrow.

    1. Essentially everything you have said about the airport and tourism cannot be denied, however, I believe that if we the people come up with good suggestions to our leadership as to how we can increase the amount of planes coming to SVG, we can at least get to a break-even situation in several years. Yes, the airport bleeds tax-payer’s money. We need “out-of-the-box” thinking to turn that around. It may take time and even more money than the airport costed us.
      Maybe there are too many people that deny all you have to say so they are not yet to the point where they can come up with suggestions on how we can make SVG a better place for visitors and investment in general.

      1. My dear friend Lostpet. There can never be a lot of aircraft because there is not enough people traffic to the island of Saint Vincent, not now and perhaps never will be. There simply is nothing to come here for. The whole project is based on political lies to cook the brains of ignorant people in the population, and they are many.

        You must be careful of believing anything that ben-David writes because he once wrote this about himself and what he writes – “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet (including my postings) because some 99 percent is pure bullshit.” I got this from somewhere recently written by another commentator can’t remember where at the moment. But what David has said is 99% of what he himself writes is untrue.

        All the lies LostPet, like how the farmers will benefit, they cannot benefit because Vincentian produce products are so common everywhere that they have nothing valuable enough to ship by air to long-haul destinations. The quality of our produce is so bad that it will not be accepted in US, UK, EU and Canadian markets, certainly not demand premium prices.

        Everything about the airport is based on lies, right down to the availability of the building and furbishment accounts.

        There will never be anything to turn around, on that count ben-David is right.

  2. If there was anything to celebrate, namely lots of jets leaving this evening nonstop to various international airports, there would be no room outside the terminal to celbrate because of all the car, van, and bus traffic.

    Since the only flights leaving are a few LIAT commuter flights, there is nothing to celebrate unless this celebration is a wake-like commemortion of the slow and painful death of a failed airport.

    1. Their would be no room inside the arrival area either, this airport is not even built to deal with volume, it is a small regional airport with an international runway.

  3. Dr. Friday is asking the wrong question which is rhetorical anyway since he knows that the government — meaning the people — paid for an event that had hardly any attendees from the electorate.

    The more important question is “why was it held?” especially since the airport has so far proven to be only a huge economic burden on our constantly depleted financial resources.

    The same money could have been better spent on other projects that held at least some promise of raising our level of living but none of these had so much voter as building an airport, the only reason it was chosen by the Prime Minister as his crowning achievement.

    At the end of over 15 years of planning, money lending, building, and operation all we now have to show for it is a mainly deserted ULP shrine.

    And even the chronic ULP worshippers stayed away in droves last night. Could this be a sign of a growing level of agnosticism?

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