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Hundreds pack hall in NY to hear PM Gonsalves


Hundreds of Vincentians packed the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centre in Brooklyn, New York, to hear from Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves at a town hall meeting, held on the evening of Saturday, September 26.

Prime Minister Gonsalves, who is in New York attending the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, took the opportunity to update members of the diaspora community{{more}} in New York of the progress of his Government and proceeded to offer reasons why the electorate should elect the Unity Labour Party to a fourth term in government.

The Prime Minister was very detailed in his presentation of the various issues, which included the completion of the International Airport at Argyle, sea port development and energy.

The Prime Minister informed the packed hall, estimated to be about 700 persons, that the airport is well on its way to being operationalized by the end of 2015, but that every precaution is being taken to ensure that every “i” is dotted and “t” crossed before it is opened.

Details of the financing of the airport were also explained, including the reason for the approval sought in Parliament to access a loan of USD 16M through the United Kingdom Export Finance (UKEF) of the United Kingdom Government by way of a guarantee arrangement.

In discussing the issue of ports, Dr Gonsalves also discussed the Government’s plan to undertake a port modernization project and that while phase one of a study conducted has proposed the situating of a new container port at Rose Place in Kingstown, that the CDB is supporting phase two of the study to look at the feasibility of relocating the container port to Arnos Vale.

On the issue of energy supply in St Vincent and the Grenadines as it relates specifically to the exploration and development of geothermal energy, Dr Gonsalves told the gathering that by the end of 2018, our country’s energy supply will be made up of at least 80 per cent renewable energy, the bulk of which will be geothermal and hydro with some solar. This, he stated, will be a game changer for our country and will go a long way in making us very competitive as an investment location as a result of our cost of energy. He gave details of the firms involved in the public/private partnership, being Emera out of Canada and Reykjavik Geothermal of Iceland. The Prime Minister took this opportunity to reiterate that the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has no intention of selling the lone power company VINLEC, as is being erroneously stated by some members of the Parliamentary Opposition.

Following Dr Gonsalves presentation there was a question and answer session, where questions ranging from same sex unions, incentives for members of the diaspora to invest in their homeland, the negotiations with the SVGTU and the PSU and the current territorial dispute between Guyana and Venezuela were asked. The Prime Minister offered detailed responses to every question asked to the satisfaction of the individuals asking the question. The town hall meeting finished just before midnight, with Dr Gonsalves interacting with the attendees.