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Eustace claims NDP will complete Argyle airport

Eustace claims NDP will complete Argyle airport


The New Democratic Party (NDP) now knows the way forward for the completion of the international airport at Argyle.{{more}}

At an emergency press conference called on Saturday, December 4, at the NDP’s Richmond Hill Headquarters, Leader of the NDP Arnhim Eustace said if the NDP is elected to Government they will complete the project.

Eustace told the media and NDP supporters in the audience that the airport project was one of many that will be undertaken with investors from this country’s “traditional partners and international business supporters.”

He declared that this would only happen if the NDP forms Government following the December 13 General Elections.

Eustace said that the announcement was in line with the NDP’s previous stance on the airport project, which stated that the project would be revisited and corrected.

Eustace had told the media in February this year, “When the New Democratic Party wins the next general elections, because we understand the value of the amount that’s already spent on the airport, we will appoint an international team of consultants who will review that project.

“When we are clear and they have their reports, the New Democratic Party will hold consultations with all stakeholders that are intimately involved, so that we can get a clear picture as to how to move from there.”

Eustace said then that this consultation will also include the sourcing of additional and alternative funding for the project.

Eustace’s statement in February followed years of skepticism from the NDP about the project, including a statement by Eustace shortly before February’s press conference that if Venezuela and Cuba withdraw their support for the project, that would be the end of the project, as he would not know where to find funding to complete it.

At Saturday’s press conference he however said, “A major international construction group, capable of undertaking large-scale infrastructure projects, will partner with an NDP administration to finally get the Argyle airport into a state of readiness. The construction company will work closely with the independent consultants, already announced, to assess and rectify the seeming planning mistakes made by this ULP administration.”

He outlined that once a clear plan of action is in place, the airport will be completed in a timely fashion, to minimize further financial wastage.

“We had announced very early that we will have international consultants look into the whole financing of the airport; see what is available presently and so forth.

What we have right now is an airport being managed with no contractor on the ground, so we are going to look in, as we said from the beginning, with a team of international consultants…. Once we get the clearance we will move ahead,” said Eustace.

To cheers from his buoyant supporters, Eustace outlined seven other projects that he said will be undertaken by the investors and partners, that are expected to create more than 20,000 jobs for Vincentians.

Some of these projects include the establishment of a new chain of retail banks in the Caribbean, using St. Vincent and the Grenadines as its base; the setting up of a state-of-the-art aircraft registry; the construction of a 1,000 unit large integrated residential and hotel resort complex; and significant seaport improvement initiatives and investments in the technology sector.

The Opposition Leader stated that for the past two years he had been in discussions with the investors, who are from the United States and Europe.

These partners, he said, are unwilling to work with the current Dr. Ralph Gonsalves-led ULP, because of the party’s alignment to “questionable regimes such as Libya, Venezuela and Iran.”

Eustace said that Gonsalves “has been backing the wrong horse over the last few years.”

“It’s a dictatorial regime we have here…. Investors are concerned, obviously, about whether their investments will be nationalized or not. That is what happens in Venezuela; so they will be cautious about where they put their investments,” said Eustace.

Eustace said the NDP has clearly stated that there is a major difference between them and the ULP. He said that difference is the NDP’s support of a vibrant private sector for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“The current Prime Minister is bad for business, bad for the economy and bad for jobs and prosperity in this country,” Eustace added.

Eustace stressed that the projects that he outlined were all fully funded and concrete, and described them as “the real deal”. He said they are secure investments, which will bring “hundreds of millions of US dollars of investment and create thousands of jobs for Vincentian citizens.”

When asked about the identity of the investors and firms, as well as the type of funding which will be made available, Eustace, the incumbent candidate for the East Kingstown constituency, said that due to confidentiality agreements, he was unable to disclose who the partners are. However, he said that the funding was a mixture of grants and direct investments.

“These are people who will establish their own businesses; it is not our intention to borrow. These are people who want to do business in the Caribbean and, in this case, are prepared to do business in St. Vincent and the Grenadines…. The world wants to do business with the NDP, but not the ULP,” said Eustace.

“I want to again stress that …all this investment will only happen if the NDP is voted into office on December 13.”