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Fri 17th Sep 2021

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What will SVG taxpayers get back from the failed LIAT

The ULP regime pumped tens of millions of dollars into LIAT over many years. Now that LIAT has collapsed, what will the SVG taxpayer get back from the ULP regime?

LIAT seems to have been failing from the day it was created. Constantly relying on government financial handouts, LIAT was never financially stable. Yet, the ULP regime kept recklessly pumping millions of taxpayers’ money into it, even though it was clearly not a viable business. Surely this taxpayers’ money that was wasted should be repaid to SVG taxpayers?

The relationship between LIAT and its shareholder governments mirrored that of a drug addict and his drug suppliers. For decades, LIAT had been managed poorly and a financial failure; its shareholder governments kept on pumping millions of dollars into it to cover that debt.

LIAT should have been forced into rehabilitation to get off its addiction to government bailouts and properly restructure, to run efficiently and create a profit.

In the Searchlight newspaper on 22/06/07, Senator Allen Chastanet, St Lucia's Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, was quoted as saying 'The one thing that LIAT has done consistently in its 51 years of existence is lose money.’ He was adamant that SVG and the other major shareholders of the airline would not be receiving any more assistance from his country.

LIAT amassed a huge debt of over 200 million dollars since being privatized in 1996-97. It was clear, even to the man or woman in the street, that LIAT was badly run and always losing money, and would be a very bad financial investment. Yet regional governments kept bizarrely giving it millions and millions of dollars.

The prime ministers of these shareholder governments must be held accountable for the incompetent governance of LIAT and loss of taxpayers’ money. It was like throwing money down the drain.

Thousands of households in SVG live in poverty, without mains water and electricity, and their children often go to bed hungry. SVG taxpayers’ money should be helping these poor households. The poor of SVG should not be neglected.

The Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, says that SVG needs factories and our own science and technology university. The money wasted on LIAT would have been better spent on building factories and our own university in SVG. This would have created a manufacturing sector for our economy and thousands of new jobs.

The ULP regime has created a high level of unemployment and low grade education system in SVG. The millions of dollars wasted on LIAT could have been better spent investing in young people's training and a world-class, free education system or raising the income of the poor to cope with disastrous ULP regime taxes such as VAT.

The health system in SVG is inadequate – even the PM flies abroad when he needs medical treatment. The poor cannot afford to do this. The millions of dollars wasted on LIAT could have been better spent investing in a world-class, free health system for our people.

Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal, BSc (Hons) MSc, MBA says that chucking SVG taxpayers’ money into the ‘black hole’ that was LIAT was not good value for money and was short-sighted and immoral.

SVG Green Party calls on this government to stop wasting taxpayers’ money on stupid things. Give the people back the money the ULP regime wasted on LIAT.

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