August 9, 2011
Opposition – PM’s address ‘cheap political rhetoric’

The address made by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the passenger terminal building at the Argyle International Airport site has been described by the New Democratic Party (NDP) as “cheap political rhetoric”.{{more}}

A release from the NDP said Gonsalves, in his speech on Sunday, August 7 “resorted to cheap political rhetoric, in an effort to secure his political support base which has been wavering under the pressure of the ULP’s poor economic management of our country.”

Describing Gonsalves’ address as “empty”, the release, dated August 8, said that the Prime Minister continues to “ignore economic reality” and has “added another date to the speculation surrounding the Argyle International Airport.”

“The confusion within the ULP can be seen in the different dates over the past year given to the International Tourism stakeholders by embattled CEO of the Tourism Authority Glen Beache and the Prime Minister, yesterday. 2013 now joins 2012 and 2014 as possible dates for completion of the project. There continues to be no clarity on how the project is being financed. There is again no mention of the “coalition of the willing”. The Prime Minister is clearly without support and without money,” the release said.

The NDP said for the governing Unity Labour Party (ULP) to “even mention airport development at this time is to ignore the pain being felt by the general public who are unable to make ends meet as the cost of living continues to increase and people’s salaries remain the same. Fixing the economy must be priority number one.”

The main opposition party, which won seven of 15 seats in the general elections of December 2010, called on the prime minister to “change his position on LIAT and listen to his own Ministry of Tourism”, saying that the Ministry has said that the high cost of flying via LIAT has negatively impacted regional visitor arrivals to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The NDP called on the government to “Invite competition to come in so that you increase visitor arrivals to our shores”.

The NDP, however, said it is clear on how it will proceed where the Argyle International Airport is concerned.

“As was stated during the elections of 2010, we have the support of a major international construction group capable of undertaking large-scale infrastructure projects. They will partner with an NDP administration to finally get the Argyle airport into a state of readiness. The construction company will work closely with the independent consultants already announced to assess and rectify the seeming planning mistakes made by this ULP administration. Once a clear plan of action is in place, the airport will be completed in a timely fashion, so as to minimize any further financial wastage,” the release said.

“This position is not based in fantasy or empty rhetoric. The New Democratic Party cares about airport development; we have the support to do it and we will pursue it sensibly, with regard for our country and our people’s economic reality.”