Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has again gotten involved in a furore in Canouan involving the major investors on the island.
The melee this time is over the location of a private educational institution on the southern Grenadine island.
The impasse, like one in which the prime minister intervened a few years ago, involved the investor in the north and south of the island, where the two businessmen have had a major falling out.
The cause of the current situation is not clear, but information reaching iWitness News suggests that the institution, Coral Reef Preschool and Pelican Primary School, located on the same compound, were not relocated after being given a year’s notice to do so.
And, on Emancipation Day, Aug. 1, a crew was reportedly sent to demolish the building, but this did not happen, reportedly after the state intervened.
iWitness News has seen a strongly worded letter, purportedly written by one developer to the other, but we have been unable to determine its authenticity.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Gonsalves, who returned to St. Vincent on Saturday after a four-day official visit to Japan, said:
“I have been trying to work out with the developers, the two sides in Canouan, in respect of the school, the private school in Canouan.
“In fact, this morning, I was in conversation with Dermot Desmond who heads the company, which owns the land. And on Saturday, I was in touch with persons in the north who are involved in the ownership of the school.”
The prime minister said that he considers the matter so urgent that he asked permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Godfred Pompey to brief him at the official Residence of the Prime Minister on Sunday.
“… because I saw several pieces of correspondence while I was away. This morning, I just finished speaking to Mr. Desmond,” Gonsalves said.
The prime minister noted that the school is private institution.
“What the government has to do, which the government has done, though the Ministry of Education, is to make sure that the basic standards are maintained in the school — syllabus, accreditation, all the arrangements under the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Education Act, that everything is fine. That’s our involvement.”
He said that as with any private school in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, his government would assist through the Ministry of Education or the appropriate ministry.
“… but when everybody who is involved in this matter leaves this problem toward the end and there is a crunch, obviously, I have to get involved, because there are 40-something Vincentians, young children who are going to the school and sometimes I would wish that persons would communicate with us on a more timely basis about impending problems, that the issues which are there they are not being solved in the way it should be solved and so forth.
“But I’ve gotten involved in the matter, as I would get involved in the matter if it is anywhere, any private school. My focus, my interest is not about anybody or anything other than the 40-odd children. That’s my concern and I am sure we will find a solution,” Gonsalves said.