Regional carrier, LIAT. (Photo: Maxime C-M)

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, says he had offered to sell his Antiguan counterpart, Gaston Browne, for EC$1, Kingstown’s shareholding in doomed regional airline LIAT.

Gonsalves’ offer comes at a time when the other shareholder governments in LIAT – Barbados and Dominica — have agreed to liquidate the cash-strapped carrier, even as St. John’s pushes ahead with efforts to ensure that LIAT 2020 emerges after the financial procedure.

“I don’t want to stop Antigua and Barbuda wanting to do what they want to do,” Gonsalves, who is chair of the shareholder governments, said on WE FM on Sunday as he spoke about the EC$1 offer, which he said he had made to Browne.

The offer includes Antigua and Barbuda paying Kingstown the value of the debt that the Gonsalves government guaranteed during LIAT’s re-fleeting exercise, which was conducted a few years ago.

“… the debt which we guarantee on the three planes at the CDB (Caribbean Development Bank), let’s value the planes and the amount of money which we owe the CBD on these planes, pay me that and I get out of it (LIAT) and you do what you want to do.”

Gonsalves said a virtual meeting of the four major shareholders of the airline has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday.

“Because we are going to liquidate, when we liquidate, any debt we have at CDB, we are still responsible for, in respect of LIAT, but to the extent to which we had signed,” he said, adding that different governments guaranteed different portions of the debt.

“You want the planes, we will get the planes valued,” he said, adding that he believes the aircraft might be valued around US$10 million each.

“LIAT has served St. Vincent and the Grenadines pretty well. We have had different times, 42, 49 flights a week, sometimes more than that, and we collect a lot of taxes because of the number of people who went on LIAT and so on and so forth.

“I am prepared, even the money which LIAT owes the Vincentian government for fees and some taxes and so, I am prepared to write that off because I can’t get it back in any case in liquidation. LIAT doesn’t have any assets.”

Gonsalves said he had told Browne from the beginning that he does not want to do anything to stop Antigua from doing what he wants to do, regarding LIAT.

“But I am not looking forward to the past. I am on a different wavelength with air transport. And if he gets LIAT and he starts it with these three planes and he gets other planes, I haven’t seen the plan yet, he said he will send it to me. I hope I get it in the morning so I can read it. It will function in competition with other airlines. I have no problem with that.”

Gonsalves said that Antigua and Barbuda is 25% of the economic size of the Eastern Caribbean Economic Union.

“I have an interest in Antigua and Barbuda prospering just like they have an interest in us prospering because all of us are in the currency union. Anyone that is down, it helps to drag others … You notice in all of this, I haven’t thrown any word at anybody. When I talk to people privately, I say what I have to say but I am not getting in any quarrel with anybody across the seas. I’m just laying out, broadly speaking…

“But I have no problem and I will walk away because [in] the liquidation process, you will have to walk away in any case,” Gonsalves said. 

8 replies on “Gonsalves offers Antigua SVG’s LIAT shares for EC$1”

  1. Someone please educate me here. If the planes are worth less than LIAT owes the CDB; which is likely with depreciation what kind of money is St Vincent due?

  2. C. ben-David says:

    Yes, Prime Minister, call Gaston Browne’s grandstanding bluff and watch him fold like a cheap suit.

    The LIAT horse is dead, dismount.

  3. Unknown Source says:

    All i am hearing is about “Liat Liquidating” there are many persons who purchase AIR Fares including myself with Liat and have not heard anything of any re-embursement plans. The one thin I cant seem to understand is how or why Liat fall so significantly. Liat is/was one of the most expensive airlines within our region, with limited competition. Maybe it was the water and biscuit and tea or Juice they serve and High Priced Tickets for same Seating Arrangments caused you to cash strap?…. Liat we all need our money owed to us for a service that has not been provided. Get you act together b4 more papers reach at your desk for moneys owed. I bought insurance when I purchase my ticket so please fool the Cat and not the Elephant.

    Unknown Source

  4. Gaston, beware of a dynastical Gonsalves bearing gifts. Call me cynical and a curmudgeonly writer if you want to, but I believe that all of us must beware of Ralph Gonsalves bunch bearing gifts.

    If Gaston Brown accepts such a deal, it will be a step closer to Antigua and Barbuda being bankrupt.

    Comrade Gonsalves how about any responsibility for acting as defacto directors of LIAT and trading while insolvent, is Mr Browne willing to underwrite that possibility if it arises? Will he indemnify SVG and you personally against that?

    Comrade, you are not quite up on insolvency laws, or are you just being untruthful? You cannot sell a debt to others and in doing so, remove yourself, and SVG from its legal responsibility. Unless of course, all the creditors agree to your doing so. CDB will have to approve such an action, which you can be sure they will not do; they are better off with a spread of guarantors than ending up with just one.

    Of course, you are perhaps trying to fool, who? Gaston will be your friend forever if he thinks you genuinely came bearing gifts. I suppose its the gesture you are trying to sell to Gaston, and in doing so convince a few ignorant Vincentians that you are a cleverer dick than you actually are.

    Its almost laughable, except there are many in the Caribbean who will be fooled by such mendacitical based nonsense.

  5. This article gives a lot of information, like how LIAT and the travellers were striped up for all those taxes that made LIAT fail.

    What also hits me is Gonsalves uses of “I” instead of “we” when discussing this matter, no reference to the approval by the Vincentian Ministers of government, or cabinet, no reference to asking what the Vincentian people want, just approval and deal cutting by him alone. He is acting like SVG is his plantation, and he is the master.

    Is Gonsalves acting out the part of a dictator President, is he trying to appear to be a Castro or a Maduro? What in hells name is going on and why on earth did he take part in such an interview with IWN. In doing so bring such a bunch of rubbish, in the name of ‘I and I’ Gonsalves?

    Just more mental slavery for the people of SVG.

    Democracy, what democracy?

  6. I wonder who made LIAT such a financial disaster? Who was in charge of the finances? Who was responsible for the “vision” of LIAT as a business entity?

    Whoever it is, we should hope that they never are in charge of a country. Just think of all the people waking up one day to realize they actually have nothing because it was squandered away in debt!

  7. I wonder what the heck would be tabled on the topic of Caribbean unity in any future meetings of Caribbean heads of state….
    All these greedy madidiots killed Liat via their tax exactions!!….. You mean that never once did anyone consider that waiving the taxes would be their country’s contribution to Liat’s survival and continued service to the Caribbean?? A bunch of grabbits and graspers!!

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