Manning to take LIAT before Trinidad Cabinet
Web Posted – Thu Jul 05 2007
REGIONAL Governments have been placed in a difficult situation when it comes to LIAT.
From left: Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur; Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves; and Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Nigel Harris.
So says Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning, while speaking with regard to his Governments position on the airline during a press conference yesterday at the 28th meeting of the Conference of Heads of CARICOM.
Manning explained that two options were considered to rectify the problems affecting the regional airline. One was restructuring and the other was a complete liquidation of the airline and starting something new.
After four months into an exercise that was conducted by the new Board, they came to the conclusion that the restructuring option did not offer the best chance of success, and therefore decided to go the other route of liquidation.
He noted that this was not feasible since it would cost US$350 million, which the Government of Trinidad was not in a position to contribute.
As the Caribbean governments contemplated the LIAT issue, and it was recognised that liquidation was beyond their capacity,they would therefore have to go the route of restructuring.
The reason why countries have asked to see the business plan, is to see whether the restructuring as they have contemplated and is being pursued at this time, in fact, stands a reasonable chance of success. That is really what the issue is.
You understand our position, because having taken a certain action in BWIA, the question is why do we settle for a different course when it comes to LIAT, and that is what I was trying to explain, he said.
It is a different position. I will have to raise this matter with the Cabinet when I go home, which I propose to do tomorrow morning [today], we will see what the Cabinets disposition is on all of this, and what the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is prepared to do.
Manning said that it is a difficult situation, particularly for the countries of the Eastern Caribbean, which he said cannot survive without proper air transport arrangements that, to date, have been provided primarily by LIAT.
It is either that LIAT continues in a form that has a reasonable chance of success, or the airline is replaced by something else, the cost of which at this time is prohibitive to the governments involved, he cautioned.
Secondly, I would like to say, the major decision coming out of the conference so far as I see it, is the decision of the conference to pursue an agenda that consolidates the Single Market and establishes a framework and a time frame for the implementation of a Single Economy including a monetary Union.
But the other one is our commitment for functional co-operation and the new place of functional co-operation in the regional integration agenda, he said.
During the opening ceremony of the conference, outgoing chairman, Prime Minister of St. Vincent, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, called on regional Governments to assist the cash strapped airline.
It cannot be right nor reasonable to expect the tax payers of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to continue to subsidise the regional air travel of other member states, he had stated.