(ANTIGUA OBSERVER) – Lionel “Max” Hurst, Government Chief of Staff, said that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) members have to work together to solve the issue of regional transportation.
He made the comment in an interview with OBSERVER media, following Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s speech at the Opening Ceremony at the 39th Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government.
The Prime Minister, on Wednesday night, called on regional governments to implement a plan to reduce the cost of sea and air transportation.
“Our Caribbean Community cannot continue to abrogate responsibility for ensuring the availability of reliable and regional air and sea transportation,” said Prime Minister Browne.
Hurst said that although the region faces lack of resources to implement many plans, it is not addressing anything new.
“We (the region) know what our challenges are. But part of the reason that we cannot solve them is because we face lack of resources required [to do so],” he said.
Hurst said that the position of Antigua and Barbuda is not unreasonable and he called on the other countries who use regional transportation services, like the
Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT), to help lessen the burden on the four governments who own the airline.
“What the Prime Minister is attempting to do is get the three other English-speaking countries that utilise the services of LIAT to collaborate and to provide more assistance to lessen the burden on the four countries that now claim ownership of LIAT. And this is reasonable; it is not an unreasonable position,” he said.
Hurst stressed: “All the Prime Minister is saying that we should treat LIAT the same way. If these big airlines did not come into [the Eastern Caribbean], then there would be no tourism from North America. It is also the case, if LIAT were not flying in many of these countries in the Eastern Caribbean, their airports would look like ghost towns.”
He added, “It is important for all of us to support LIAT, because [it] is not going to be a profit making [company] but we need it.”