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SVG applies to the RDF for airport funds

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This country wants to be the first to draw money from the Regional Development Fund (RDF); Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has put in a request for US$16.8 million for the construction of the Argyle International Airport.{{more}}

Addressing a meet and greet session that the Ministry of Trade and officials from the CSME unit of CARICOM had with local journalists and students of various divisions of the Community College last Tuesday, Dr Gonsalves said that he has already written to CARICOM’s Secretary General Edwin Carrington, and current chairman of CARICOM, Barbadian Prime Minister Owen Arthur, about the issue.

“I have a shortfall of US$16 million for our international airport,” Dr Gonsalves said.

He was at the time saying that the RDF was one of the mechanisms put in place by CARICOM to assist the less developed states, as the CSME takes shape. The RDF is expected to be put in proper, operational order next year, Dr Gonsalves said.

Dr Gonsalves said that very high on the agenda of CARICOM is the fine tuning of the contingency rights of spouses and immediate dependent family members traveling with a national who has relocated for work purposes.

He explained that currently, such family members have the right to travel with their loved one, but once in the new country, their rights and privileges are not defined.

He explained that a clearly defined contingency plan would avoid situations like the one he faced just last year.

Michelle Davidson, a Grenadian student, placed third overall in the 2006 Advanced level examinations, but did not qualify for one of the national scholarships, because she was not Vincentain.

Davidson, who had moved to St Vincent two years before in the wake of Hurricane Ivan, was given a special award, the Sir Sidney Gun Munroe award.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT after the awards were announced, Dr Gonsalves said that he decided to give Davidson the three-year scholarship in the interest of continued Caribbean unity.

He explained, as he spoke at the forum, that when the contingency rights are ironed out, such awards may be given as a right, and not at the discretion of those in authority.

Meanwhile, head of the CSME Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat Ivor Carryl said that the time has come for a shifting of the CSME discussion from what it is, to how to use it.

He said that competition within the market place is a must in a single market and economy, but gave the assurance that the mechanism is being put in place to ensure that this competition is fair, that all can enter and participate in the market place without being disadvantaged.(KJ)

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