Fri 27th Aug 2010

Argyle airport project will bankrupt SVG

Everyone knows that the Argyle airport is a major part of the ULP policy to bring mass tourism to SVG. The ULP say it will help our country, but it is quite clear it is just a 'white elephant'. They are wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars.

The opportunity cost is massive and Vincentians have been given a raw deal. These hundreds of millions could and should have been better used to build a modern hospital, build a university, upgrade the school education system to a world-class level, construct 5 factories, investment in the private sector and incentives to encourage the growth of small businesses.

A respectable business man in Kingstown told the Leader of SVG Green Party, Ivan O'Neal, that a university is critically important to the overall development of SVG. The business man went on to say that the return from a science university would be much greater than any return from the Argyle airport.

He said that a university should have been built within 5 years of SVG independence and that SVG needs to be a knowledge-based economy to create jobs for the new generation. SVG already has 5 airports, so air transport is not a critical economic issue in SVG.

The Argyle airport illustrates the usual ULP financial and economic madness. Not content with dragging the SVG economy to its worst position ever and breaking the national bank, they carry on with the construction of an expensive white elephant.

The priority for SVG is jobs and a strong economy. It is strange then that the ULP, and to a great extent the NDP, seem madly focused on wasting hundreds of millions of dollars to build an airport for tourists. Vincentians should be an SVG Government's priority.

When the times comes that SVG can afford an international airport, then updating Canouan airport would be a better option, at a fraction of the cost wasted at Argyle. Widening Canouan airport runway would provide SVG with an international airport facility. Coupled with a modern fast ferry service, this would bring people to St. Vincent mainland.

The International Argyle Development Corporation claim Argyle airport will have a positive impact on the SVG economy, but as yet have failed to produce a cost-benefit statistical analysis to show this. The ULP should stop construction until they give the Vincentian people proof of any benefit. Only a financially incompetent government would embark on a billion dollar project before working out whether the project will work or not.

The consequences of the Argyle airport will cause deforestation and water and air pollution. The high altitude aviation fuel will damage SVG's rainforest area and therefore threaten the source of our fresh drinking water supply. If our drinking water becomes polluted with aviation fuel, then this will lead to bad health and damage to people's vital organs, such as liver and kidneys.

Going by the discussions SVG Green Party has had with Vincentians so far by going house to house, we have discovered that there is little support for the Argyle airport. The ULP regime should cancel the Argyle airport project. It is a misfit for SVG and will cause substantial economic, social and environmental damage.

An SVG Green Party government will cancel the Argyle airport and instead create thousands of new jobs and make the SVG economy strong. Vincentians deserve prosperity.

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