PM on Cuba Assistance
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said Thursday that Cuba would be providing more assistance to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the construction of an international airport expected to be completed by 2011.
Gonsalves was among leaders from member countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of our Americas (ALBA) that attended a summit in Havana over the weekend.
He told reporters that he held discussions with Cuban government ministers including a senior official of the Civil Aviation Authority of Cuba and that 11 more professionals would be arriving here next year as part of the continued Cuban aid to the island.
Gonsalves also said that he held discussions with officials from the Ministry of Basic Industries resulting in additional technical expertise being made available to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We also made arrangements…for 40,000 tons of cement, 15,000 next year and 25,000 in 2011,” he said.
Cuba and Venezuela are providing much of the assistance to the International Airport Development Company (IADC) that is spearheading the efforts to construct the new EC$480 million (US$179 million) airport at Argyle, an area on the Windward end of the island.
Taiwan has also committed a US$15 million grant and a US$10 million soft loan for the project.
The Prime Minister said there was “nothing dramatic” at the ALBA summit that dealt primarily “with taking stock and consolidating our work in all the areas.”
He said he had presented an overview of the economies of the Caribbean in the absence of Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is campaigning for the December 18 general elections and his Antigua and Barbuda counterpart, Baldwin Spencer, who arrived late in Havana.
He said the review was “pretty much the same review that I gave at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM in Trinidad last month),” Gonsalves said, noting that one of the highlights of his visit to Havana was a two-hour meeting with former president Fidel Castro.