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Government gives update on airport investment

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National Properties Limited (NPL) has sold about $26.5 million worth of crown lands thus far to realize government’s contribution to the $589 million Argyle International Airport – the largest capital project in the history of St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

This in essence means that the government is about $149 million away from meeting its total investment of $175 million to the project.

So far, just over 29 acres of lands have been sold in Bequia at a cost of $19,316,918.90, while about 19 acres have been sold on the mainland at a cost of $7,129,396.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves gave the update in Parliament last Thursday, March 26, in response to a question posed by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace.

NPL is in a partnership with the Argyle International Airport Development Company (IADC), whereby crown lands will be sold to meet government’s share of the project.

The government’s contribution is what is being used to acquire private properties on the 375 acres earmarked for the airport at Mt Pleasant/ Argyle, project management related costs and contingencies.

Dr Gonsalves told the House of Assembly that sales of the lands could have gone much better, but the NPL is exercising due diligence in the way it is going about the sales.

He explained that in the meantime, as the IADC needs money, NPL will take loans where necessary and use the lands as collateral until the lands are sold to accommodate “socially worthwhile development projects”.

Some 248 million acres of lands have already been used as collateral for a $42 million loan from the National Insurance Services (NIS), while a further $30 million has been similarly borrowed from the First Caribbean Bank (FCIB).

The Argyle International Airport is the flagship project of the Dr Gonsalves led Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration.

The other $414 million for the project has been outlined to come in the form of grants and soft loans from friendly governments, chief among them Venezuela, Cuba, Taiwan and Trinidad and Tobago. (KJ)

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