Gonsalves

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Venezuela promised to help build the international airport being built in Argyle but does not owe St Vincent and the Grenadines anything, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said on Monday.

Caracas is yet to repay Kingstown EC$8.78 million paid so far to Cuban workers on the airport, as part of Venezuela’s promised contribution to the project.

Gonsalves, responding to an opposition question last week, told Parliament that Kingstown pays EC$368,572 per month in wages to the Cuban workers.

He said that Venezuela’s promised contribution is not a debt to St Vincent and the Grenadines and thanked Caracas for its contribution to the development of the nation.

The prime minister further said he was disappointed with media commentary on the situation.

“The way some persons have carried the story and have commented is as though Venezuela owes us this money and they haven’t paid it and they should be traduced,” Gonsalves said.

He said that when the opposition asks questions from “a mischievous standpoint”, Vincentians must “look at the factual matrix and see the extent of the generosity of the government of Venezuela to us”.

Gonsalves said Caracas has donated to the airport project US$10 million in equipment, three wind stations, and had also partnered with Havana to set up a soil-testing laboratory.

He further said that the South American nation also agreed for Kingstown to borrow EC$27 million from the PetroCaribe Fund at 2 percent interest for 25 years — “a gift in practical terms”.

He said thankfulness is part of Vincentian culture and that he will “rebut” ingratitude.