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Argyle International Airport a great asset to SVG – PM

Argyle International Airport a great asset to SVG – PM

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The Argyle International Airport (AIA) is a great asset to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines (AIA), valued at over EC$1 billion, but costing taxpayers only EC$320 million.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves repeated these figures on Wednesday, during a ceremony at the AIA, held to unveil a US$52,000 LED chandelier, a gift from overseas individuals in celebration of the AIA’s first year in operation.

Speaking at the ceremony, Gonsalves said despite the airport being such a great asset, there are persons in leadership positions in this country who still want the AIA to fail.

He said the AIA is valued at EC$1 billion, but was built at a cost of approximately EC$700 million, with the Government owing only EC$320 million.

He said while some people speak about the debt, they must understand that there is something to show for that debt. Praising the AIA, Gonsalves said that it was built with tremendous love and there is no airport like it in the entire Caribbean.

“First, it is the only airport which has not received the imprimatur of any engineer, any technical person, from America, Canada or Europe, the only airport in the entire Caribbean, even the one which Maurice Bishop built in Grenada, because they got some assistance from the European Union, they had to review the plans and made their suggestions and had input; this one had no imprimatur from anybody in what is seen as the developed north,” revealed the Prime Minister.

He reiterated that the AIA was built by Vincentians, Cubans, Venezuelans, Taiwanese and other persons from the south and that is a great achievement.

He said although SVG had outside help, one of the difficulties we had in the construction of the airport “is that the colonial mind of many, including some in leadership positions in some organizations,” was fighting against the construction.

Said Gonsalves, “They thought that once America and Canada and England and France and Germany didn’t say yes, you couldn’t do it. One leader, with whom I disagree profoundly on many, many things,… he said that’s something must be wrong if you didn’t get any money from the European Union, from the World Bank from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), from Canada, from America….”

But Gonsalves told the gathering if we are to wait on the bigger countries to do certain things for us, we would never get them done and “that is why I made the point that we should never allow persons to impose limitations on us.”

He noted that even though we have challenges and weaknesses, the task is to marshal those possibilities and put them into action.

“That is what we have here. Never ever for one moment that I doubted that we would build this airport or build this magnificent airport. Never on one occasion. Great causes have never ever been built by doubtful men and women,” said Gonsalves, who added that he knew the risk involved when we started the AIA, but he could not back down.

“If I had only reach halfway or quarter way and I couldn’t go beyond it, I would not be Prime Minister today, I would have been pilloried. I might have had to go and find see if I get a spot on Balliceaux. Well, now we build it and it is so beautiful, so as long as we can read and write and record things, what we accomplish here would be in the memory of our people and of our Caribbean civilization,” said Gonsalves.

“I know that there are people who write about this airport in a cynical manner; the original cynic in ancient Greece was at least honest and not hypocritical, because he lived in a barrel; he couldn’t be cynical about mankind and go and live in a beautiful house, but the same ones who are cynical about this, you think they does take speedboat and go Carriacou?

“They come here and some of them they got such bad mind, they push up they face, they wuk up they mouth. I ask them, please at the end of the first anniversary, it is here, it is not going anywhere, just cool out, relax and stay within the frame and spirit of almighty God. Just accept that you were wrong about it, … and put your hand on your heart when you come in and if you don’t want to say it in English, say it in elementary Latin, Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa; through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault and be cleansed and enjoy the place,” said Gonsalves to laughter. (LC)

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