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Embrace the coming of an International airport

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30.JUN.06

Editor: Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves, returned from an official visit to the Republic of China on Taiwan. On his return to St. Vincent and the Grenadines he announced the following benefits, among others, from his visit: US$35 million of which US$25 million (US$15 million grant and US$10 million in soft loans) for the International Airport Project at Argyle and a further US$10 million in grant for other socio-economic projects between 2007 and 2011, inclusive.{{more}}

Additional assistance for the Airport Project as captured in the language of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two governments (SVG and Taiwan) is as follows:

“Any request for additional assistance for the airport project will be afforded favourable consideration in further discussions.”

This has been the most successful Prime Ministerial visit ever to Taiwan since our countries established diplomatic relations in 1981. Yet, the opposition NDP has called it a “disappointment”. Surely, objective observers will make an assessment contrary to that of the Opposition. Indeed, given the facts, the Opposition’s conclusion is one which cannot stand.

Having gone out on a limb in advance with their opposition to the Prime Minister’s visit on account of the alleged domestic political problems of President Chen of Taiwan, the Opposition NDP now finds fault with the Prime Minister’s very successful visit. Thus, they now seek to down-play the Prime Minister’s achievements. Evidently, the opposition seeks to oppose for the sake of opposing. Their position also shows a lack of appreciation of international politics.

All this twisting and turning by the opposition NDP points to one thing: They do not want St. Vincent and the Grenadines to get an international airport under the ULP administration. This is an unpatriotic, anti-national, and partisan-division posture of the opposition NDP which all right-thinking persons must surely condemn.

It will be remembered that on the eve of President Chen’s visit to SVG in September 2005, the opposition NDP held a march and rally in Kingstown ostensibly on the issue of poverty. Within a week or so, the Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Arnhim Eustace, declared publicly that the march and rally had nothing to do with poverty. Instead, he said, it was intended to signal to the Taiwanese President that the opposition had support and that he must give no money to the ULP administration for the International Airport Project at Argyle. Eustace said then that any donation by the Taiwanese for the international airport would make them, the NDP, “dead in the water”.

Now that the Taiwanese government has allocated substantial monies to the airport project and with a promise for additional assistance, the opposition NDP has been placed in further political hot water, perhaps “dead in the water”.

I say to the Opposition: Be patriotic and support the airport project; forget the petty politics and give the Prime Minister the credit which he genuinely deserves on this one. The people will applaud your honesty. Meanwhile, let us all embrace the coming of an international airport at Argyle.

Hans King
Press Secretary to the
Prime Minister

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