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PM: We have to be grateful to Taiwan

PM: We have to be grateful to Taiwan


Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has refuted allegations being made against this country’s longstanding diplomatic partner Taiwan.{{more}}

At a press conference this Tuesday during which the Prime Minister accepted a cheque valued EC $3.9 million from Taiwanese ambassador Leo Lee, Gonsalves used the opportunity to denounce statements that Taiwanese vessels illegally fish in Vincentian waters, and that their technicians do not share information with local farmers.

“It’s just not true!” the Prime Minister asserted. “It is illegal to do so and if I allow it or have an agreement to do so, I will be breaking the law.”

Dr. Gonsalves pointed out that this country has a ships registry which includes 100 fishing vessels; more than half are Taiwanese.

He said that the presence of a Vincentian flag on a Taiwanese ship does not give it a right to fish in Vincentian waters which he repeated does not happen.

“…And it doesn’t matter how often I explain it, they can’t get it in their heads that registering a vessel to carry a Vincentian flag does not make that company a Vincentian company.”

With regard to the statements about technicians sharing information with farmers, Dr. Gonslaves indicated that the government encourages the Taiwanese technicians to work directly with local farmers.

“They go to the farmers and the interface with the farmers. You take for instance the growing of pigs: the way the pigs are grown and the guidance with them, that’s why we have a self sufficiency in pork.”

“We have to be grateful and just don’t have bad mind. We mustn’t do that with our friends and they have been good friends to us.”

The friendship between the two countries has seen the Taiwanese government increasing its annual Civic Development Project Grant from US$2 million to 2.5 million.

Tuesday’s EC $3.9 million cheque, the Prime Minister indicated, will go towards the funding of the Youth Empowerment Service (YES) Programme, the construction of three Learning Resource Centres, the Cumberland Playing Field, the continuing battle against the Moko disease affecting bananas, as well as the development of the Rabacca National Park.

He indicated that his government had recently disbursed the sum of US$635,000 to defray the cost of the design of the Argyle International Airport terminal building, which should begin construction shortly.

He also thanked the Prime Minister for clarifying the issues.

“I understand that there are some misinformation and misunderstandings on the relations between Taiwan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I can assure you that our President Ma reiterates that we will honour our commitments to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and we will expand our cooperation program in the future.”