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Dr. Rudy Matthias: He will be a public spectacle

A public spectacle is what Opposition leader Arnhim Eustace will become if he provides estimates which show that the International Airport at Argyle will cost over EC$1 billion.

This is the bold declaration of head of the International Airport Development Company (IADC), Dr Rudy Matthias, who is challenging his fellow economist, Eustace, to bring his figures to the public domain.{{more}}

“I sometimes wonder how this fellow comes up with these things. I would like him to show, bring it to the public domain. Whatever studies he has done and whatever information he has to show that the cost of each of the components that we have is not reasonable,” Matthias said.

“I want to see when he brings his figures how in heavens these numbers reach a billion dollars, and I am sure that we will make him look like a public spectacle…,” said Matthias, whose doctorate is in Financial Economics.

At a town hall meeting held at Democrat House last Tuesday, July 1, Eustace

said that the estimate given by government for the construction of the airport, at EC$480 million will in fact be doubled when all is done.

Eustace has a Master’s degree in Labour Economics and has a long record of international service including serving as director of the Caribbean Development Bank, chairman of the Windward Islands Banana Development and Exporting Company and the National Insurance Service (NIS).

Eustace was at the time, criticizing a move by government to secure a further EC$20 million loan from the NIS to fund the airport’s construction.

Eustace expressed concern that this loan will bring to EC$40 million the amount of money that the IADC is borrowing from the NIS, and said that he is concerned about the long term future of the social security system.

“This is people’s pension down the road, so when the government tampers with the NIS it is saying we don’t care,’ Eustace said.

“For many people, that is the only contribution they have for their old age,” Eustace also noted.

He read from what he termed a letter from a ‘black angel’ saying that while the process to grant the loan from the NIS was being finalized, the IADC was trying to secure a $4 million loan from the National Commercial Bank in the meanwhile.

Dr Matthias however refuted any suggestion that the loan is an indication of any desperation or scrambling.

He said that the loans from the NIS, each valued $20 million, and an earlier $30 million sourced from the First Caribbean International Bank Limited are in keeping with the government’s financial blue print for the airport.

Dr Matthias said that while the government’s financial commitment to the airport project will come from the sale of crown lands through National Properties (NP) Limited, “land sales take time.”

Dr Matthias said that the loans are bridging financing, and as the lands are sold, the money is used to repay these loans.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the NIS Lennox Bowman says that the NIS’ future is safe.

“The NIS board will not do anything to risk the future of the NIS, and will always look at all the issues when lending money,” Bowman said.

He said that by the end of the year, the report of the latest actuarial study of the NIS should be completed and the board will look at the report carefully.

Bowman expressed confidence however that the report will be favourable for the NIS, but said if anything shows up that demands any adjustment or intervention, the board will take the necessary steps.

“Right now we are in good standing,” Bowman said.