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What do we really want?

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Tue, Aug 30, 2010

Editor: Construction work on the Argyle International Airport Terminal Building has begun and whereas most Vincentians at home and abroad are excited and supportive of this development,{{more}} there are pockets here and there who continue to insist on stopping construction of the airport: (1) because they do not understand its financing or (2) times are hard and the money would be better spent elsewhere in the country.

Let us agree on two things: (a) the financing of the airport can get fuzzy for some persons who do not care to understand and are making no effort so to do; (b) yes, times are hard. The question, therefore, is what should we do? Should we forget the progress already made and throw our hands in the air, or do we weather the storm, press on and come out victorious in the end?

It is unfortunate that some of us are not making an effort to understand the very creative way in which the government has gone about financing this project. We seem unable in some cases to wrap our heads around it. However, if we take off the political blinkers for an hour and look at this objectively, we would be able to understand and appreciate the way in which this is being done.

Having said that, I would venture to say that, were we getting the airport free of cost, we would all understand its financing. However, since we are being asked as a people to assist with the financing, this becomes blurry.

The governments who make up the coalition of the willing have already given to the construction of our airport and, in some cases, they continue to do so. I repeat, it is our airport, why can’t we contribute financially to its construction; exactly what is wrong with that?

The Argyle international Airport will undoubtedly bring many benefits to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, particularly in tourism and other areas of the services sector, agriculture, etc. When and how we realize these benefits would depend on when the airport is completed; when the economy emerges out of its current downturn; when investments are made in relation to the airport’s construction; what types of investments are made; and how prepared our people are to take advantage of the opportunities.

This scenario certainly brings one back to the proverbial question, what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do we stop construction of the airport now and continue when the economy rebounds, or do we continue to build and be ready to capitalize when the economy turns around? Do we invest now with a view to taking advantage of the opportunities that the airport will bring, or do we wait until after the airport’s construction to start investing? These are all questions that we as a people must consider.

Another question that we need to ask is, what will it cost the government to finish the airport if, indeed, it were to stop its construction at this juncture. Would we be able to complete it then or watch millions of dollars, already spent, go down the drain?

However, since there are no plans to stop the airport, its construction is moving ahead. What, therefore, should we be discussing at this time? I would dare to suggest that our discussion at this time should focus on how we as Vincentians can come together and offer critical financial support to a project that would benefit all of us in the long run.

Vincentians, do you want to continue being harassed and treated as less than equal when you pass through some airports, particularly by people whom we consider to be our Caribbean brothers and sisters? Do you want to continue missing your connections to international flights and sleeping in regional airports with no one taking responsibility? Do we want to continue watching our perishable goods left in the fields to spoil, because we are unable to access international markets in a timely manner?

At the end of the day, we as a people would have to decide, and I believe that by and large we have already decided that we do not want to continue in this way and that the airport’s construction must be completed; for indeed, we have come to far too standstill.

The undeniable fact is that for us to be recognized as a modern state, we need to have improved communication and better access to our country and that would only come through an international airport.

What is it that we really want? If it is an international airport, then I suggest we stop the bickering, the indecisiveness, and the politicking and throw our full support behind the government and the International Airport Development Company and together let us take our country forward.

Jennifer Richardson

Communications Officer

IADC

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