Tourism Minister, Dr. Ernest Hilaire asserting that ‘the treasury was empty, empty, empty,’ has responded to reports which he says a few friends of his brought to his attention, to the effect that the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has been circulating a rumour that the current administration has paid Virgin Airlines US$24m to return to Saint Lucia.
“Yo rara, as the popular saying goes. They are suffocating from hearing that Virgin is returning when they are the ones who forced Virgin Airlines out. Now Virgin has announced that they are back, it is killing them,” Hilaire wrote Friday on the official Facebook page of the ruling Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP).
“Truth be told, not a cent has been paid to Virgin Airlines to return. We are still finalising the marketing support which will be provided to Virgin Airlines. And it will be marketing support and certainly not a minimum revenue guarantee. The last Government did so much of that we are not going back down that route. They can only quote US$24m because that’s what they did for their friends, family and undeserving foreigners,” the Castries South MP asserted.
“UWP knows $24m very well. Remember the payment to a developer of that amount for the missing CIP funds when he needed them to build the hotel. Remember the hotel that was given a waiver of that amount denying Saint Lucians money for health and education,” Hilaire explained.
“Trust me if this Government found US$24m in the treasury, we would be using it to finish St. Jude Hospital for the people of Saint Lucia,” he stated.
But Hilaire, who also has responsibility for Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, declared that the treasury was empty.