Thursday, August 18, 2011

PM praises Cuba-Venezuela over Argyle airport

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says Venezuela will meet the multi-million dollar bill for hosting a number of Cuban workers at the Argyle International Airport project. “The amounts spent on the Cuban workers from July 2008 to the end of July 2011 is EC$8.76 million (US$3.24 million), “Prime Minister Gonsalves told Parliament.

He told legislators that St. Vincent and the Grenadines government has been permitted by Venezuela “to borrow monies in respect of the Argyle International Airport from the PetroCaribe fund” under which Caracas provides oil at concessionary rates to several regional countries.

Gonsalves said that EC$27 million (US$10 million) “so far has been borrowed…and we have repaid two million dollars (US$740,700). We fully anticipate that by the end of the project all necessary conciliations would be made.”

Gonsalves described the Cuban workers as “volunteers” telling Parliament that the amount of money paid to Cuba directly on their behalf “is only a fraction of what they would normally command if they were hired as workers in the open jobs markets.
‘In fact many of the junior engineers employed by IADC (International Airport Development Company) are being paid more than two times what we pay for an experienced Cuban engineer, similarly the amounts we pay under contract for engineers…the consultants, the overseas engineering company, is more than four time what we are currently paying for a similarly trained qualified Cuban engineer.”

Gonsalves said the contributions of  the Venezuelan and Cuban governments towards the project “are immense”.
The Argyle International Airport is being built on about 175 acres of land, with a paved runway 2,743 meters (9,000 feet) long, and 45 meters (150 feet) wide. It  is designed to accommodate jets as large as Boeing 747-400s and handle about 1.4 million passengers per year

The project is being developed by IADC, a private limited liability company wholly owned by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The project team includes the Chatoyer-Che construction team and CECI Engineering Consultants of Taiwan.

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