August 16, 2011
Venezuela yet to reimburse SVG

Venezuela is yet to reimburse the Government of this country monies already paid to Cuban workers at the Argyle International Airport for wages and stipends.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves made the disclosure during last week’s sitting of Parliament while responding to a question put by the Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace.

According to the prime minister, a total of EC$8.78 million was paid to the Cuban workers during the period July 2008 to the end of July 2011.

He added that the average monthly cost for the Cuban workers was now $368,572.

“We have been permitted by the Government of Venezuela to borrow monies for the project from the Petro Caribe fund,” the prime minister explained, saying that thus far, EC$27 million had been borrowed and $2 million already paid back.

Gonsalves further explained that the government put in EC$20 million of the $42 million received last year from the sale of the 51 per cent of shares from the former National Commercial Bank and a further EC$7 million was made available via the sale of the Reigate building by National Properties Ltd.

But Gonsalves said that he anticipated that by the end of the project, all the necessary reconciliations will be done.

He further contended that the Cuban workers were volunteers and were only receiving a fraction of what the International Airport Development Company (IADC) would have had to pay elsewhere for the labour.

“In fact some of the junior engineers employed by the IADC are being paid nearly two times more what is being paid to an experienced Cuban engineer,” Gonsalves said.

He further noted that the contribution by Cuba and Venezuela to the airport project was immense and that now that two thirds of the earthworks had been completed, it had an equivalent value of EC$180 million.

The IADC has expended EC$28 million, which, according to Gonsalves, is expenditure minus the interest costs.

He added that if one was to evaluate the work done in comparison to the expenditure, it would work out that every $1 spent on the earthworks has the created value of $6.67.

“Cost to value ratio helps us to understand the real contribution made by our friendly partners,” Gonsalves said in Parliament.

He said that although the earthworks had a price tag of EC$279 million, the IADC did not expect to spend that because of the in kind contribution received.