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Dr. Gonsalves exposes ‘letter to Badawi’

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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has laid a charge against the People’s Action of Alliance (PAA) of Bequia claiming that they wrote a letter to Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, trying to get him to stop supporting the International Airport Project at Argyle. And he has added that an e-mail sent to someone by error has made the Government aware that there are plans to also write the Venezuelan and Taiwanese Embassies – countries which have agreed to assist with the construction of the international airport.{{more}}

The Prime Minister said that such action demonstrates a lack of patriotism and is an effort to undermine a mandate which was given to government.

Representatives of the PAA present at last Monday’s meeting at Cabinet Room, which was also attended by a team of Government officials, denied the allegations.

However, supporting his claim Dr. Gonsalves read from a letter that he indicated was written to the Malaysian Prime Minister.

“Firstly, the Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines claims to be selling this land to raise $85 million needed to purchase the land on mainland St. Vincent for the proposed international airport. The government has suggested that Malaysia will be of assistance either in building or the running of this proposed airport. We feel that Malaysia should carefully consider the social, economic and moral cost which will thus be wreaked upon the people of Bequia,” Dr. Gonsalves quoted the letter as stating.

“What you are telling him is not to get involved in it,” stated Dr. Gonsalves.

The PAA representatives expressed concerns that they had brought to the table, noted that they were aggrieved that for the past two months, since discovering the sale of Crown lands on Bequia on the Internet, they had tried to no avail to get information.

At the end of his address, Secretary of the PAA, Garfield Gurley, put forward the position that until government’s plans are made public and are found to be acceptable to the majority of the people of Bequia, the PAA is asking government to call a moratorium on the sale of Bequia Crown Lands.

The Prime Minister replied that maybe the PAA have not heard, but he had spoken about the sale of lands on Bequia on several occasions. He mentioned that Minister Julian Francis had also spoken on the matter in Parliament where a ministerial statement was made under the Prime Minister’s authority as well as officials of the National Properties Limited.

Dr. Gonsalves pointed out to the delegation that Bequia is not the only place where lands is being sold. He said over 20 acres of lands will be sold at Buccament, and 69 acres at Peter’s Hope/Mt. Wynne. An additional 300 acres there will be leased to facilitate the development which will take place on the 69 acres to create a golf course etc.

The Prime Minister said that he had canvassed during the elections on these issues and had been overwhelmingly endorsed by the people. He added that some lands will be sold on mainland St. Vincent, some lands will be leased and in the case of Union Island, 100 acres are before the court as government is trying to get it forfeited to the Crown due to the failure of the developers at Chattam Bay to fulfill a covenant.

Dr. Gonsalves noted that while the PAA are making calls for a development plan for Bequia there are sketches and outlines of a development plan which is supervised by Herman Belmar the Unity Labour Party’s candidate for Bequia. The Prime Minister said there is an overall plan which will be further elaborated.

Dr. Gonsalves disclosed that the following lands have been vested into the International Airport Development Company in lots: Crown Point 55 acres, Spring 45 acres, Friendship Heights 22 acres, Friendship Bay 32, 564 square feet, St. Hillaire 15.5 acres, and Adams Bay 5 acres. The Prime Minister told the grouping that with regards to lands at Park Industry, the 600 acres of lands there in question, will not be sold. He said they will be leased.

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