Our Readers' Opinions
November 26, 2004
Sticking hands in Vincentian eyes

editor: Elected politicians, clergy, concerned Vincentians at home and abroad, opposition political parties, media – print and electronic – ought not to stand by and let Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves return to business as usual, sticking his fingers into the eyes of current and future generations of Vincentian tax payers. {{more}}

Dr. Gonsalves, like former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell, has single- handedly piled up a mountain of international debt obligations on the unsuspecting Vincentian people for one of his pet projects. Dr. Gonsalves has borrowed TT$$98 million (plus the unknown interest rate) from a bank in Trinidad, for the construction of a 7000 ft. jet airport on the 2/3 privately held Grenadines gem – Canouan.

The sole beneficiaries of this publicly financed jetport are friends of the Prime Minister – the Palm Island Resort (a stone’s throw away from Canouan), and the New York playboy Donald Trump, who has a controlling interest in Canouan.

Parliament must demand that Dr. Gonsalves make public the development agreement he signed recently at Trump Palace in New York City. Responsible elected politicians should publicly threaten to resign if Dr. Gonsalves does not come clean with the Vincentian people about his urgent need to plough millions of borrowed government money into a jetport, on a mostly private island, when youth unemployment is hovering around 50 per cent. The clergy, and concerned Vincentians, should demand an immediate inquiry to uncover any quid pro quo between the Prime Minister and the main beneficiary of the jetport on Canouan. Strike the political iron now while the financial trail is hot!

Sir James Mitchell’s phantom Ottley Hall Marina Project resulted into millions of crushing international debt obligations for the Vincentian people. It was later certified to worth less than $20 million.

Reform of our political ministerial system is urgently needed. The constitutional commission should make it their patriotic duty to make sure that no future prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines assumes the ministerial portfolio of minister of finance or minister of justice (legal affairs), written into the proposed constitution. These are critical times for the Vincentian people. The comatose elected politicians in the cabinet should publicly speak up now, or forever hold their peace. The Prime Minister’s ministerial portfolio is too all-powerful; among the ministries he single-handedly controls are the critical ministries of finance, justice, labour, Grenadines affairs and economic development. You, the elected representative of the Vincentian people, are obligated to speak truth to power. If you don’t, Vincentian people should administer a strong dose of political antidote, come next election.

Finally, the US$15 million for the jetport in Canouan is just a political smokescreen for Prime Minister Gonsalves. The US dollar is not the official currency of Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidad bank will have to convert TT$98 million (rounded off, since US$1 = TT$6.46) to come up with US$15 million to lend Dr. Gonsalves. With the unknown interest rate, the long suffering, but proud, Vincentian people are looking at over TT$200 million. By his schemes, to finance the construction of a 7000-ft jet airport for wealthy foreigners on their private tropical playground, Canouan, Dr. Gonsalves has exposed his real reason for appointing himself Minister of Finance and Minister of Justice. Elected from a rural district on the mainland, he’s also minister of Grenadines affairs – go figure! The right hand knows exactly what the left hand is doing.

Randy Aberdeen

Brooklyn N.Y.