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PM- Stop “lynching” Rev. Job

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The Opposition has been accused of spear-heading a “dastardly lynching” of veteran Methodist Minister Victor Job.

Rev. Job was part of the delegation that accompanied Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on his recent two-week trip to Europe and the Middle East.{{more}}

Job’s role in the delegation has been the subject of much debate and discussion here.

Rev. Job accompanied the Prime Minister on the Rome and Iran legs of the trip which also included visits to Madeira, Portugal and Libya.

When the House of Assembly met on Thursday, May 14th, the first question asked by the opposition had to do with the cost of the entire trip, including the cost associated with each individual member of the delegation, and the “particular interest” of each member of the delegation.

Dr Gonsalves went on the offence and bluntly refused to itemize the cost of each member of the delegation’s participation.

“I am not going to provide details for each member,” the Prime Minister said, saying to do so would to feed the frenzy against Rev. Job.

He instead outlined the benefits derived from the trip that he calculated to be worth $40 million, compared to the $123,000 that the trip cost the state.

Among these benefits is an immediate US$2 million from Iran for the Argyle International Airport, and a further minimum of $2 million that will be used to fund an Iranian construction company based in Venezuela, which is set to come to St Vincent to assist with the earthworks for the new airport.

Discussions will also be held regarding Iran giving a further US$16.5 million to assist with the paving of the runway.

Libya has agreed to contribute towards the lighting and telecommunications system for the airport, which the Prime Minister said is worth about EC $10 million.

A total of 29 scholarships, mainly in medicine and engineering, worth over EC$11 million, has also been secured from Iran, Libya and Portugal.

Gonsalves chided the opposition for their interest in the individual costs and details of the interest of members of his delegation, saying that there are comparatively much more expensive trips that have been taken in the past under the Sir James Mitchell’s New Democratic Party government.

According to him, a comparative trip led by Sir James in 1998 which cost the government over $400,000 and which comprised a delegation of 30 persons, did not bring any tangible benefit to the country.

“I do not owe the Leader of the Opposition any explanation as to the individuals, who in my judgment as Prime Minister, take on a trip to represent St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.(KJ)

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