By Caribbean News Global contributor
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaks on the demise and liquidation of regional carrier LIAT.
Last year, Gonsalves in his capacity as chairman of the LIAT shareholders government group of countries predicted that the regional airline will go under because most of the countries that use its services are not responding favourably to the airline’s request for US $5.4 million [at the time] to ensure its survival.
Following Gonsalves exclamations that LIAT closure is imminent, came his reversed optimism that LIAT is not going anywhere, anytime soon. ‘We are going to be all right.’ The chairman’s remark was based on the decision by some regional governments to accessed to LIAT’s emergency funding of US$ 5.4 million to remain viable, restructuring plans and new investment options.
The 2020 backdrop is crystalised here.
- Antigua – Barbuda PM prepared to lead on LIAT
- Antigua – Barbuda PM present option to LIAT majority shareholders
- LIAT 2020 a viable option
“The principal government shareholders in LIAT, except the government of Antigua and Barbuda, faced with their own daunting financial constraints, chose to liquidate the company. This action has created friction in the regional group and predictions of its demise. But, history has shown that, despite such predictions in the past, CARICOM has proved to be politically resilient with all parties recognizing that there are more benefits in retaining the organisation than abandoning it,” explained Sir Ronald Sanders.
“Solving the problem of LIAT and regional transport, like the issue of re-evaluating the role of governments in relation to the market, requires a re-shaping of CARICOM based not on national rivalry but on regional collaboration so that every nation benefits from the fruits of integration. The equation will never be equitable given the differences in populations and resources, but at least it should be fair,” Sir Sanders said.
Many are of the view that the demise of LIAT will have a catastrophic impact on the Caribbean, however, given the odds and the urgency of now – LIAT 2020 Ltd is a natural and seamless fit – for the benefit of all.