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PM: Demagoguery would not be accepted

PM: Demagoguery would not be accepted


Residents of the Northern Grenadine Island of Bequia are up in arms and angry with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and his government. It has to do with the sale of lands to finance the Argyle Airport.

A group, calling itself People’s Action Alliance of Bequia, have been rallying supporters in order to have the government reverse its policy towards the land sale. But Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves is of the view that “persons are turning legitimate concerns into a battering ram.{{more}}

He made his position known at a press conference held at the Prime Minister’s Office last Wednesday.

The Prime Minister sought to put the issue into political reality. He disclosed that Bequia was not the only place from which lands were being sold in order to finance the project.

The matter has evolved into an intense political battle, one that the Vincentian Prime Minister is keen to have debated in a balanced way.

“We are seeking to accommodate legitimate interests of the poor,” Dr. Gonsalves said. But he outlined that he would not be intimidated by threatening emails.

“I grasp the point. Let us balance this issue,” Dr. Gonsalves pleaded.

He suggested that, “demagoguery would not be accepted,” and said, “they should lower the political temperature.”

The Prime Minister dismissed suggestions made by opponents of the airport project that the International Airport was of “no benefit to Bequia.”

He indicated that the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines “accepted the government’s proposition to build an International Airport.” He added that $100 million was coming from the sale of lands, and that Bequia was not the only place from where lands were being sold.

He accused some persons of wanting to buy cheap land “to turn around and sell to foreigners.”

The Prime Minister mentioned Northern Grenadines Representative Dr. Godwin Friday whom he accused of being “very loud about the issue.” He accused the opposition parliamentarian of submitting applications every week for Aliens Land Holding licenses.

He cited that if other persons contributed, why couldn’t we.

Some 600 acres of land at a place called Park Industry are at the heart of the matter.

According to a release from the PAAB, “pretending that there is no land problem in Bequia is not going to make the sell-out of all the island’s government-owned land any more palatable to the people of the country.”

The PAAB accused the Prime Minister of not responding to a letter sent to him on June 14, which outlined their concerns and asked for a meeting with him. They have also taken issue with Minister of Lands Julian Francis, who was sent a letter dated June 27.

The PAAB also took issue with the National Properties, whom they contended had not answered a letter dated June 19.

The PAAB added: “If the government will not give out any information to its people, then the people will have to take recourse elsewhere.”

The Bequia residents are planning to take their concerns further and have written to Governor-General His Excellency Sir Frederick Ballantyne requesting a meeting with him.

“Other eminent persons and organizations in the state, in the region, and internationally will be lobbied to help Bequia cope with this serious and dangerous policy of selling-off the country’s asset to finance a particular project,” the release added.