AIA loan now under $200 million – PM
PRIME MINISTER Dr Ralph Gonsalves
February 16, 2024
AIA loan now under $200 million – PM

PRIME MINISTER, Dr Ralph Gonsalves has thanked the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines for accepting the vision which was laid out to them concerning the construction of the Argyle International Airport (AIA). And, he has outlined that the outstanding balance on the loan obtained to construct the facility is now under $200 million.

On Wednesday February, 14, a ceremony was hosted at the airport to mark the seventh anniversary of its operations.

Gonsalves said had it not been for previous success at general elections, the airport would not have been realised.

“…particularly those elections in 2001, 2005 and 2010. If we were not successful in 2015, we were told that it would not be opened until at least 2020, and that would have cost 600 million dollars more.”

He reminded that the New Democratic Party had argued that they would have to bring in the private sector to provide the money and run the airport, and that it would choke Vincentians “until the second coming of Christ.”

Prime Minister Gonsalves said of the loans obtained to construct the more than EC$700 million airport, the government now owes under EC$200 million “most of which we owe to the Alba Bankjust over EC$100 million dollars; we 60 something million dollars to a bank in Taiwan, supported by the government of Taiwan; and about 8.4 million dollars to a finance company in the United Kingdom called North Star”.

He went on to list and thank the various governments for the assistance they provided that enabled the airport to be constructed.

The Prime Minister also said that there is a long list of people who said no to aid in the construction of the AIA.

“European Union, European Investment Bank, United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, The World Bank- they all said that building an airport here was a species of madness which ought to put one along the path to enter the mental asylum at Glen.”

Gonsalves said now that the airport is here, everyone wants to claim it and he agreed that everyone should claim it, but reminded that while he was traversing the world raising the EC$750 million and more, there were some people from the very beginning in St Vincent and the Grenadines and overseas who were intent on opposing and derailing this project.

“I want to thank Dr [Rudy] Matthias who was the chairman and the CEO of the International Airport Developmental Company, a wholly owned state company which managed the construction of this airport.”

Gonsalves said that had it not been for the support of so many people, the airport would not have come to fruition. The airport project was supported by a number of governments whom the Prime Minister referred to as ‘the coalition of the willing’.

Among those present at the ceremony were Governor General, Dame Susan Dougan; members of Cabinet; representatives from the diplomatic community including the ambassadors of Cuba, the Republic of China on Taiwan, as well as representatives of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.The chairman of the Argyle International Airport Board(AIA) Kenneth Young, and the Acting Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of the airport Josette Greaves, were also among those attending Wednesday’s ceremony.