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Daniel differs with Thompson on LIAT monopoly

Daniel differs with Thompson on LIAT monopoly


By Nelson A. King in New York 01.FEB.08

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Montgomery Daniel has differed with new Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson on LIAT’s island-hopping monopoly.{{more}}

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines has no choice [but to stick with LIAT],” Daniel told a town hall meeting in Brooklyn over the last weekend.

“In the case of Trinidad, or Barbados or St. Lucia, they can afford to say that they are not supporting a monopoly because there are alternatives to be offered,” he added.

“So, Mr. Thompson can say what he wants at this time because he can freely go in and out of Barbados if LIAT is not there,” he continued.

The governments of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Vincent and the Grenadines are the major shareholders in the airline.

Last week, Thompson said his Democratic Labour Party administration was unprepared to support LIAT’s monopoly, blasting, at the same time, the regional carrier’s quality of service.

He told business leaders at a luncheon in Barbados that, as a major shareholder, his government will “do all within its power to address the problems” surrounding LIAT.

Daniel – who was on a stop-over in New York, after visiting Japan, where he signed the second phase of a fisheries agreement – said the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves-led Unity Labour Party administration has been “out-front in trying to keep LIAT in the skies.”

He acknowledged the support of the regional airline by the governments of Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados in particular, but noted “they have supported it because of the influence of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

“But we are concerned about the delivery of service of LIAT,” Daniel said. “We are very much concerned.

“As a government, we meet with the LIAT company from time to time,” he added.

“LIAT has offered that they will improve their services, but it’s really a sour thing to us,” he continued.

LIAT’s executive director,Mark Darby has, meantime, dismissed reports that the airline has sought to establish a monopoly, stating also that it is working hard in improving services.