July 18, 2008
Trinidad PM shows support for International Airport

An international airport is vital for the economic and social development of St Vincent and the Grenadines. This as the new world economic order, resulting from globalization, continues to destroy the agricultural sector of countries like this one.{{more}}

This is the view of Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Patrick Manning that was expressed last Sunday in his address at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Argyle International Airport.

Manning, who could not attend, forwarded his address, which was read by Hans King, the Press Secretary to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

“…it has become essential for St Vincent and the Grenadines to focus its economy on the tourism sector, an occurrence which makes an international airport requisite for its economic and social development,” Manning’s address said.

He reiterated Trinidad and Tobago’s commitment to fraternal relations with the CARICOM community and stressed the need to forge ahead with “closer and deeper relations with each other.”

“If one reflects on it, one will see how much we depend on each other and must strive harder to be our brother’s keeper,” the statement read.

Referring to Dr Gonsalves as his “dear friend”, Manning outlined the process which facilitated his country’s contribution towards the airport project.

He recalled that the CARICOM Petroleum Stabilization Fund that was set up three years ago to deal with poverty alleviation and emergency relief situation could not be used for airport development.

In response to a request made by this country’s government, a special window to help finance infrastructural development projects in countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) was set up.

This special window was to be financed with US$1 million per month by Trinidad and Tobago but because of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ urgent need, it was capitalized with US$12 million up front, so that this country could assess the US$10 million that it needed.

Meanwhile, Dr Gonsalves has again credited good leadership on his part and his longstanding friendship with Prime Minister Manning as responsible for the positive response by Trinidad and Tobago regarding the funds for the airport construction.

“Listen to the sequence and you will understand the importance of leadership on this matter,” Dr Gonsalves said at a press conference last Tuesday.

“For me to get Prime Minister Manning, to speak to him about this thing, to even have an opportunity to persuade him, it means that I would have had on an ongoing basis to establish a very good relationship with him and his government, to be in a position to exercise the influence and to do the persuasion by the force of the arguments and the documentations,” he said.