Antigua PM Defends Position On LIAT

Antigua Observer:– Prime Minister Gaston Browne has declared that issues surrounding LIAT are of regional interest and are not private matters or solely for shareholder governments.

Browne made these comments recently on a public platform following statements by Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley that her Cabinet is yet to decide the future of its relationship with the cash-strapped carrier.

This was a week after PM Browne disclosed that the Barbadian leader has agreed to sell all but 10 percent of her country’s 49 percent share in LIAT.

Browne’s view is that everyone should be concerned about the fate of the regional carrier.

“Placing LIAT on the path of viability and sustainability is not for private discussion. You’re talking about an airline that is owned by several Caribbean countries, one in which we utilised taxpayer’s money to invest in LIAT and when it comes to public funds, I believe we all have an obligation.”

“I have tried my best to be accountable to the people of Antigua & Barbuda and I make no apologies about it,” he said.

Prime Minister Browne said he does not believe that he spoke out of turn about the current talks between himself and Prime Minister Mottley as it is his role as leader of the country to sensitise his citizens on matters concerning the nation.

“All I did was to indicate that she has so confirmed the willingness of Barbados to negotiate. That is all I’ve said, and I don’t know that there’s any bad form or there’s any talking across the Caribbean. I have a responsibility and a duty to the people of Antigua & Barbuda to account.”

In fact, Mottley told the Barbadian media, that when a decision is made, it will be done in Parliament and in no other forum.

Browne defended his position, saying that other information in the letter was never disclosed, as negotiations are ongoing.

He stated that the public was only informed about a letter dated May 16, 2019, in which Mottley indicated a willingness to divest some of Barbados’s shares.

“If it is that I was going to show bad form, I would have published the letter and I would have discussed pu­­­blicly some of my own concerns, but I recognise that we have to allow the process of negotiations to take place and those concerns will be addressed.”

Prime Minister Browne gave insight into his plans for LIAT, which include reducing the carrier’s expenses. He added further that the government is making provisions for the expansion of LIAT and will be making use of the old VC Bird terminal building.

“What we plan to do is to extend a lease to LIAT and this will also help to reduce rental costs. I’m told that they spend in excess of a million dollars here in rental costs so by virtue of the Government of Antigua & Barbuda making that facility available to LIAT, that should help to reduce its operational costs.”

With regards to raising revenue, he said measures will be put in place to ensure that LIAT will no longer be porous with losses.

“There are some other areas where we are looking at to raise revenue and

we believe that we can revamp LIAT in such a way and to restructure it in such a way, to restructure it for it to become profitable and even if it makes a loss, that it will be a significantly reduced loss.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. I hope these political Mesa can have the intellectual capability to bring LIAT to profitability; and keep in mind that whatever amount of money is collected, an ex-employee is entitled to US1.5 million dollars from LIAT. Time will tell and we will see if LIAT will sink and continue to swim.

  2. Marxist Communist Comrade Fat Boy Gonsalves has already stated that in his view LIAT should never be private, it should always be supported by the States/s (taxpayers). However, the possibility of it being run on a commercial basis and paying its own way apparently has no place in his world.

  3. One thing that the LIAT directors refuses to see, is that LIAT dose not transport people in the region for FREE, therefore, the tax payers money should be doing something else than been pumped into A mal directed LIAT! IF anything, people of the participating nations have the right to know!

  4. The bottomline is that tax payers should have a great say in any the decision making process concerning the running of Liat .

  5. TIGER AND TIGRESS

    There is always danger in ‘…letting cats out of bags.’ Never know where they may run, or whom they might scratch.

    Worst yet, there is great danger letting tigers out of a cage. They may attack , maul and kill.

    Even keepers are sometimes mauled to death. Be it a ‘…Tiger or Tigress,’ they instinctively attack.

    It has always been the female tiger that repels not ready for advances.’

    Applied to ‘…human negotiations,’ mum has always been the watch word.

    A fitting song to sum this up is the Jo Jones Song ‘…You Talk Too Much’ [1960: You Tube].

    Take just a short listen.

    From the perspective expressed, rather than ‘…one shareholder government ‘seeking to ‘…grab majority shares,’ make it an open market and open up shares to other regional governments.

    Then again, some governments do not even wish to hear the names of some governments, let alone taking on the apparent ‘…non-profit making and debt-ridden entity called LIAT.’

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