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Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sir Louis Straker. (iWN file photo)
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sir Louis Straker. (iWN file photo)

Lawmakers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday permitted the government to borrow US$50 million (EC$135 million) from Taiwan amidst debate in which Kingstown-Taipei ties was a talking point.

The monies will be used to build two hotels, one in the Mt. Wynne-Peter’s Hope area on St. Vincent’s western coast, and an airport hotel in Diamond — on the island’s eastern corridor.

Minister of Foreign Affair, Sir Louis Straker, who is Member of Parliament for Central Leeward, where Mt. Wynne-Peter’s Hope is located, gave “strong support” for the bill.

Sir Louis, who is also deputy prime minister, said the tenure is 20 years from the first disbursement of the loan, with a grace period of three years from the date of the first advance, at a rate of under 3 per cent.

The loan is from the Export-Import Bank of Taiwan, which Sir Louis noted also financed the “cross-country road” and the Argyle International Airport.

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“We are very grateful to Taiwan for what they have done for us over the years; tremendous help they have given us in every sector of our economy,” he said.

He said he often wonders how opposition members feel when they are travelling and stand “in that majestic and imposing terminal building and they look around and see that was through Taiwan money — the very government they said that if they get in power they would kick out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.

The main opposition New Democratic Party announced two years ago that it no longer supports Kingstown-Taipei ties and if elected to office, will establish diplomatic links with Beijing.

China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has not ruled out the use of force in achieving its reunification goal with the island.

Opposition Leader Godwin Friday “recently” led a four-member NDP delegation on a visit to China to firm up those ties.

Sir Louis said Taiwan provided $80 million to construct the tower and terminal building at the Argyle International Airport, which began operating in February 2017.

“Yet they gracefully go through it, looking at its splendour and yet they say when they get into power, they are going to kick Taiwan out,” he said of opposition lawmakers.

“I have a list of projects financed by Taiwan here going to hundreds of millions of dollars to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And that is why I say I would constantly support Taiwan, because it would be an act of gross ingratitude to say I’ll kick Taiwan off the islan, after all,l they have done for this country and they are doing now.

“When you go through the estimates, you will see a lot of projects by ROC — still financing and would continue to finance.”

Sir Louis said the change in the opposition’s policy came soon after they expressed “undying support for Taiwan because we share the same values, respect for funeral rights, etc.

‘The last time the then Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace, went, he said he feels like saying ‘ditto’ because he saying the same thing over and over again because we are firmly committed, like family –we are family.

“And the whole world was shocked [at the change in policy].”

Sir Louis said that in 2002, shortly after his Unity Labour Party administration came to office, the government went to Cuba, and the opposition asked what would the United States say about such a move.

“Now, they are now advancing the idea of advancing to China and kicking out Taiwan and I ask them, ‘What will America say?’”

At this point, Member of Parliament for North Leeward, Roland “Patel” Matthews, asked the foreign minister who had initiated the relations with Havana.

“I am not talking about — that’s a different topic we can talk about that…” Sir Louis said.

Regarding the loan, he said:

“This is a great day for this country that we were able to secure $135 million. It brings joy and rejoicing to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, particularly the people in Central Leeward and I heartily support this bill.

“I trust that the opposition will give their full support to this bill because it brings employment to this country. It brings economic growth to this country and let us stop the petty back and fourth and let us support something that is for the benefit of all Vincentian. It’s for all of us.”

Sir Louis said that when he retired from Parliament from 2010 he could have said mission accomplished because much had been done during his tenure.

He said he had fulfilled every promised he had made, with the exception of the beginning of construction of the hotel at Mt. Wynne.

Sir Louis came out of retirement in 2015 to contest the Central Leeward seat again.

He said the hotel project in his constituency had been spoken about former Prime ministers James Mitchell and Eustace.

“But it is one thing to have an idea. It is another thing to execute an idea.”

14 replies on “Parliament approves $135m Taiwan loan amidst debate about continued ties”

  1. $US 50 million ($EC 134 million) could not possibly come close to building these two hotels.

    My best estimate given: (1) standard government cost overruns on any large project; (2) the percentage cost overruns at Arglyle International Airport; and (3) the estimated cost of Blacks Sands Resort at Mt. Wynne is $US 110 million ($EC 294 million).

    Shame on the NDP for voting to support two more white elephants on the mainland adding to our growing list of such: (1) the white elephant airport, (2) the white elephant cruise ship terminal, (3) the white elephant Kingstown Market, (4) the white elephant Ottley Hall shipyard, and (5) the white elephant Buccament Bay Resort.

    Welcome to the land of government white elephants.

  2. I wonder how much of that money will end up in de project-leaders’ pockets. I also smell a budding dictatorship on the horizon for SVG. I see all the patterns leading towards it, the people being kept poor and dependent on the government etc. I want to believe that this hotel project is a good thing for SVG but I have no confidence in Gonsalves and the ULP government.

  3. Taiwan -Bejing relationship is a major blunder by the NDP, it shows that they don’t understand how to handle international relations. I don’t trust Patel Mathews and his group to handle such an important post.

    1. Rafael Anthony Stefania says:

      Taiwan does give SVG a lot of development aid and other technical assistance. We don’t know what China will do. One bird caught is worth more than fifty flying.

    2. Taiwan does give SVG a lot of development aid and other technical assistance. We don’t know what China will do. One bird caught is worth more than fifty flying.

  4. White Elephant

    Sir can I continue to list white Elephant s in SVG that my good friend forget to mention.

    The Fishing Complex at over dry river,. The Kingstown library,.
    The George Town police Station.

    The Calliaqua Hall, that is so compress and useless that took about 12 years to built.

    And for your wrong polical bias, the Kingstown Market is essential Service for the people and Government and not a business.

    Tell us how the Cruise ship Bert is white elephant and if it is the Government of day is responsible for not putting to work.

    The Government of day is responsible for there opperations of the Airports.

    The Orty Hall project is one of best in the region, any ship yard will be happy to that business.

    Again our Government fail to utilize the concept and drive of the project for political grave after they try to destroyed in the beginning.
    Put our people first and political ideologies last.

    1. 1. The tomb-like new market was not needed and nobody likes it. All the old market needed was a few million dollars of renovation and upgrading.

      2. The cruise ship terminal is the second most unused one in the Caribbean. It should have been built on Bequia instead.

      3. Ottley Hall was a scam that has never come close to meeting its expectations and has seen a series of managerial follies.

  5. Health Reason Kingstown Markets was Rebuilt.

    The Kingstown Market was Rebuilt from Recommendations to Government from health Officials from PHO and UN. This back ground information I was present at time when the health Officers came and did test on Air Quality , Heat in the Market, Quality of the Food and how long before spoiling.

    Sir the heat was to high for people, Air fan was installed from sea area to pump air or pull hot air out .

    Also the Building roof and materials was made from Abestus , paint and lead(which causes Cancer) these was also on sheet recommendation to Government .

    1. This sounds like if you are saying that it was mismanaged. Well, that must be the tip* of the iceberg as far as buildings in Kingstown go. It is just to gross for words. *tip of the day.

    2. None of this is an excuse for replacing an open-air covered market — the type of facility found not only throughout the Caribbean but throughout the tropical world — as the cheapest and most effective way to display food in a spacious and naturally lit facility to the largest number of patrons.

      How could the heat be too high for the people in the old market when it is not too high elsewhere in the world where open air markets like the old Kingstown one are the norm?

      In all my years shopping in the old market I never heard a vendor or customer complain about the heat nor ever observed a single person with a drop of perspiration on their forehead.

      There was no refrigeration in the old market and there is none in the new one.

      The new market also sell spoiled food because it is so dark inside that you can hardly see what you are buying!

      What we built in SVG to replace the old market was a dark and dank rat-infested Mussolin’s Tomb which both vendors and customers detest which is why so many vendors sell their goods outside the market or on neighbouring streets.

      As I said, the old market needed to be renovated, including the building of a new roof, if needed. It did not need to be torn to the ground to be replaced by a hot, dark, damp, smelly monstrosity of a concrete building.

      1. I wonder if they have any idea about urban planning with respects to that monumental eyesore of the New Market. SVG is being run like the proverbial Banana-republic. Street names and house numbers are an exception rather than a rule. Not to even mention building codes and standards. The set of jackasses running the country should all be sent home. Innovation is wasted on SVG, people only understand misery. That is what they are used to.

  6. Cancer agent materials was found in their markets from their Roof and structure

    Sir, allow me please to restate this point again, the Market was rebuilt for health reason. A part from condition the Markets.

    The second reason why the Markets ,f ish ,Meat and Vegetale because Asbestos , lead paint and agents from and other material in and out side of the markets, these thing Cancer, and health problems to the Vendors and buyers. You are going at the cosmetic of the built and overlooking the main causes. Asbestos and lead . Cancer cancer cancer. Thank.

    Let say to you these are more ventilation into New Market that the old one. From my observations there large opening from every side venting air inside , open court in inside, these was not in old one.
    The spoiling of food today is not because of the market, the sellers will not reduce their prices and prefer to let food spoiled, I knew that because I was around for 14yr in that environment.
    Happy New Year.

    1. If you don’t understand what I mean then here’s a clarification: I mean that they should have realized that the building needs maintenance and upkeep, modernization etcetera. Let say that that was the courthouse instead of the market-building. What would they have done, break it down and build a new building? History and Culture are a very defining aspect of society. Those in power in SVG does just jump up and do things just to say they did it. Then next election they can boast about what they have done, totally regardless of the cultural or social impact.

  7. Sir, I believe in Culture and preservation. I always be SVG lost it way when the Revolution theory is is been preach without evolution (how things thru ages evolved) To go forward we must have sense where we came from.

    There was Market Shed (People Parliament Square) that to should been preserve as Political Square. It is was rich in our History. And other like the Calliaqua Town Hall that was demolished for a confine and useless Building for polical expediency.

    Sir, to retrofit all the Markets , to bring in expert to remove all the Asbestos , Lead, lead paint, sanitize all the markets and disposal of the contents will cost Government Millions of Dollars.

    You can do some research on this subject.

    Sir, I do not if you was a frequent buyer in Old Market, or if you are young man who is speaking from a political views.

    But I can attest to you One who was in place as stated before years the Quality of Air inside was bad any many vendors get sick in that place.
    Most all the Vendors young and old that was in the Market daily and also workers died. It is my believe it have to do with Market environment.

    This is why test was done and many other factors in and around the markets.

    You may look at cost and cosmetic , design, and layout, but to me any building is as good once it passes the Health and Safety require ments .
    l do hope in our Education Revolution age that health and safety test are done , and being Certified before occupancy of the building.
    Sorry we see this one differently but I learned. Thanks , God bless.

    Thanks to our Editor , Mr Chance.
    Happy New Year!

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