December 10, 2010
Major investments, jobs ‘genuine’, says Eustace

“It’s all true!”

So says Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, in response to remarks of disbelief made by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves concerning plans by the New Democratic Party (NDP) to provide thousands of jobs and introduce major investments to this country from international business partners based in North America and Europe.{{more}}

Eustace, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, December 8, at the party’s headquarters, called on Prime Minister Gonsalves to take note of what he was about to outline, as proof that the claims he had earlier made were genuine.

“Listen closely, Gonsalves. Pay close attention. This is your worst nightmare. I know that. I know this will crush your ego, but I suggest you put your own personal craving for power to one side for a moment and hear the huge benefit that projects will bring to this country.”

In reference to a major international construction group, Eustace said: “The turnover of the construction company amounts to over $1.5 billion annually. Their track record includes the construction of more than 250 km of roads and highways, 150 km of railways, 20 km of tunnels, several important dams, several large arched bridges and a major international airport.”

Furthermore, they have built important public buildings and commercial centers in the Middle East, in East Africa and America.”

“The other construction group, which intends to set up a regional operation to become a major player in the Caribbean region… will be able to finance some of the contracts partly through export financing facilities of their home base. There is a good likelihood that things will move forward fast, and a first major project will be awarded soon.”

“The banking group we have negotiated with for establishing a regionally active retail bank in St. Vincent is an important privately held banking group with an impeccable reputation and experience in retail banking. Its annual turnover exceeds US $15 billion….”

Eustace, however, mentioned the name of one of the investors, all of which he said had guaranteed 100 per cent funding, only if the NDP were to form the government after the December 13 General Elections.

Eustace claimed this company, Armajaro, “will work with an NDP administration for the farmers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

“They will finance our farmers from scratch; clearing the land, providing start up capital to grow cocoa. They will supply the new varieties as well as technical assistance and propagation units and fermentation bins. They will then also guarantee the sale price.”

Research by SEARCHLIGHT revealed that a company by that name does exist and is heavily involved in, among other things, cocoa production in Africa.

The London based company, formed in 1998 is said to employ over 1,000 persons through its subsidiary companies.

In July this year, Armajaro purchased 240,100 tonnes (seven per cent) of the world’s cocoa valued at 658 milllion pounds, and caused cocoa prices to rise to its highest level since 1977.

Further research also showed that recently, the company got some bad press, having been involved in a political scandal in the United Kingdom and Ghana.

According to reports, the holdings company, headed by Anthony Ward, had been banned from doing business in Ghana when an agent of the company was accused of smuggling cocoa from the country.

The reports state that Ward “convinced” a UK Cabinet Minister to speak to the relevant authorities in Ghana to have the ban lifted in September this year.

During his delivery, the Opposition Leader used the opportunity to taunt the Prime Minister with phrases like “Are you listening, Gonsalves? Are you hearing what I just said? Deal with it”; “Listening, Gonsalves? Put that in your pipe and smoke it!” and “Are you hearing the crying right now from the Prime Minister’s residence?…. I want someone to check the airport: see if he’s flying off to hide in Syria and Iran right now.”

The Prime Minister, the day before, had called the announcements by Eustace ‘fictitious’ and that they were being used to gain political mileage just days before the General Elections.

Eustace repeated throughout Wednesday’s press conference that the projects and their financiers were real, and they were expected to deliver thousands of jobs.

Eustace said that the Prime Minister is jealous because he was not able to procure such international investors for the country.

“Ralph Gonsalves is bad for business. He is bad for jobs. And he is bad for the future of our country.”

“I ask every single Vincentian citizen to take a moment to really think about the choices we face. Do you want your children to study in America, the UK and Europe, or Iran?

“Do you want hundreds of millions in investment, or debt? Do you want democracy or dictatorship? Do you want jobs or poverty?”