Keeping in mind how out of control corruption is in SVG, my mind once more went to the new airport at Argyle, and that was days before an article
appeared stating that, according to a partner in the project, it is now set to cost EC$1.6 billion. So I had taken a look at what is current and what is past. Remember, Gonsalves’ cousin Julian Francis recently said, "Wherever there are piles of paperwork there is corruption hidden." He said knows that because he was once a banker.
2008: The NDP estimated that the Argyle airport would cost EC$1.1 billion.
May 24, 2011: The CARICOM Development Fund on May 24, 2011 at Government Headquarters, signed a facility for US$4.21 million [EC$11,289,600] with the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The agreement provides financial assistance for the Argyle Airport project which was identified by the Vincentian government as the crucial initiative in reaching its long term development goals.
August 2011: The official estimate of works was EC$652 million yet in October 2012 the CDF was quoting EC$240 million.
October 2012: The CDF Ambassador and CEO, Lorne McDonnough, made the following statement
whilst visiting the Argyle site: "I am pleased with the pace and quality of development of the new EC$240 million Argyle International Airport in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines."
We should have asked at the time who told them the airport was only costing EC$240 million, and should have asked IADC why they were given such information?
McDonnough was accompanied by his director Lennox Forte; they were inspecting the project, following the approval by the CDF board of a second loan for EC$8.8 million.
They were given a tour of the development by IADC chairman and CEO Dr Rudolph Matthias, consultant engineer Leonardo Perez and chief project engineer Jeffrey Cato gave the CDF party detailed reports on the progress of the development, followed by a drive-through of the whole site. They were given to believe that work on the Argyle International Airport began in 2008 and was set for completion by September 2013. The CDF officials inspected the stone crushing plant, quarry and base laying equipment which includes five dump trucks, a paver, two rock trucks, two front end loaders and a rock hammer procured by IADC with the first loan and grants. They were told that the additional loan will be used to buy equipment for the paving works and laboratory testing.
At the time I wrote this as a comment to the article above.
"Whoever in CARICOM released this statement should be taken outside and shot. The directors who approved this statement are a bunch of incompetents. Of course the possibility is that they have been lied to and tricked.
"The airport will cost at least a billion dollars. It has already bankrupt SVG.
"Ambassador Lorne McDonnough, what on earth are you talking about? Gonsalves has bankrupt SVG with this project. He told the Vincentian public via his cousin Senator Francis that the project was being funded by a 'coalition of the willing' and there would be no debt now or in the future for the Vincentian taxpayer. This has turned out to be an enormous lie.
"Every part of the project is based on scrounging from foreign countries in return for supporting them with our UN vote, and borrowing from all and sundry, specializing in states such as Iran and Syria. Eventually falling on the people of SVG to suffer hardships. Work at the airport given to Cubans instead of Vincentians, and to top it all the Cubans are paid three times that of Vincentians. This money is transmitted to Cuba, so our economy doesn't benefit from this money circulating in SVG.
"There are known and recorded instances of fraud regarding the project.
"The money doesn't even benefit CARICOM, it’s spent in Cuba.
"Your projected figures are beyond the belief of any sane person ‘the new EC$240 million Argyle International Airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines’ the project is between 1 billion and 1.5 billion EC dollars, not EC$240 million. You state that the project will complete in 2012, the government says 2013, what is obvious is that it will not be finished in 2015.
"It’s great being diplomatic, but if you can’t put your name to the truth, remain quiet or carry out proper research, don’t rely on what the SVG government tell you.
"You need to be aware that the landowners who had their land taken from them for the airport, some 60 persons or families, still haven’t been paid for their land. The only people who have been paid are house owners and members of the ruling ULP party. Farmers have lost their land, lost their income and are suffering, some unable to afford to send their children to school or afford medical attention.
"If you search the internet you will find that what I write is true".
July 15 2014: Another article appeared
where the same CEO Ambassador of CDF Lorne McDonnough said, "The US$600 million airport is one of the big infrastructural projects within CARICOM in which the CDF is involved. So far, the CDF has provided St Vincent and the Grenadines with US$7.5 million in a mixture of loans and grants to be used for the construction of the runway and apron, acquisition and installation of the runway lighting. The CDF is pursuing an initiative to establish a renewable energy plant during this year to be located in the compound of the Argyle Airport.”
Mr McDonnough, everything that I wrote in 2012 is unchanged; exactly the same comments I made then apply now. Right down to the fact that the landowners have still not been paid for their land, and my airport cost valuation of EC$1.5 billion. Perhaps you would like to give me a job at CDF, seems I have more common sense than your executives. Ask PM Gonsalves, he will give you a glowing reference on my behalf. He describes some people as 'Internet Crazies', but he is well aware that is something that I am not.
Now the figure of US$600 million is about EC$1.7 billion; come on, old man, as CDF's financial and project funding expert you should know when you’re being told a fairy story in the first place, EC$240 million to build a huge airport from scratch, did you really believe that?
The latest thing is that the CDF requested all those online media who have published US$600 million to change in to EC$600 million. Some have done just that; they have changed the figures, I believe Gonsalves went ape shit when he discovered that CDF gave the game away. I have read that the CDF have been asked by Caribbean News Now to clarify why they gave the figure US$600 and do they approve it being changed to EC$600 million, I believe they have failed to reply or acknowledge that question.
People of St Vincent and our Diaspora should ask why are we being told by an outside agency the cost of our airport; is our failed government unable or frightened to tell us the truth? I noticed several times in the latest article that CDF describe themselves as partners in the project, I thought they were funders, do they know something that we do not know?
We have been told by Prime Minister Gonsalves that he is here to finish the work of Maurice Bishop. Just two of Bishop’s many works were to commit fraud against the IMF and other lending sources by keeping two sets of books. Also to build a military airport for the Cubans and Russians. That is all available in the public records stored in Grenada, and also as microfiche in Maryland, USA. Despite my asking on numerous occasions what part of Bishop’s work he is going to complete, some or all, he has never come forward and informed us. So, PM, I ask you again, please clarify your statement about Bishop, exactly what do you mean, in a few sentences, not in a whole essay, 26 pages not required. If you keep wasting paper I will have to report you to Ivan O'Neal of the Green Party, someone I consider has more sense in his little... he may even stand you in the corner with the fiscal dunce hat on.
Letter: Argyle Airport, who fooling who, who deceiving who?
Letter: Argyle Airport, who fooling who, who deceiving who? - Part II