There are persons in St. Vincent and the Grenadines trying to undermine the negotiations of the government with cruise lines regarding the repatriation of Vincentian sailors and oil rig workers, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says.
“… there are persons who want to undermine the government’s negotiating position. They are sending things to cruise lines, telling them that the government must pay for this thing,” Gonsalves said on WE FM on Sunday.
“And those who ain’t sending, they writing it up all about so that the cruise lines are seeing, believing that people are bringing pressure on Ralph so that Ralph would cave in and just bring them willy-nilly. But I wouldn’t cave in.
“We have to do this thing properly…” the prime minister said, adding, “… you know me, you know when I give you my word I want to see them, our nationals come back but it has to be done properly.”
The government has been locked in negotiations with the cruise lines over the past few weeks.
The government had detailed terms and conditions for the repatriation of Vincentians sailors, including a certificate of health indicating their COVID-19 status.
Further, the employers of the sailors or oil rig workers must pay the government EC$150 per day for 14 to 21 days for the quarantine of the sailors at hotels or guesthouses.
But some persons have questioned the government’s approach, saying that after the return of the sailors to SVG, they should become the responsibility of the state.
They further said that the repatriation of the sailors should not be further delayed by the government’s demands.
“And we can’t be so unpatriotic to try and undermine your own government in relation to some people who don’t want to take up their responsibilities, some people, meaning maybe some people inside of cruise lines.
“I will have more to say about all of this thing. You notice I have a lot of answers and a lot of things to see about some of this stuff which is going on.
“But I will say them at the appropriate time when people will make a determination as to what kind of leadership they want for the next five years for this country but the argument is not for now.”
He said that some persons have even criticised the frequency with which he has been commenting on the issue.
“I see some opportunists even writing –It has been drawn to my attention — that I talking too much. The Prime Minister of this country must talk on this thing every day, if necessary, and it is necessary. I can’t leave people in any state of uncertainty. I have to bring clarity to the matter,” Gonsalves said.
He added that the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache and the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Roger Duncan are talking about the technical matters.