The United Workers Party (UWP) has declared that it will not support the Hewanorra International Airport (HIA) Redevelopment Project which seeks to lease out the airport for some thirty years.
UWP frontman Guy Joseph said that his party has requested that an exit clause be included in the contractual arrangements for the project, which will allow them to pull out from the current arrangement being discussed, if they assume office.
Joseph described the project as the “worst conceived” by any government of the region, while emphasizing that there are no direct benefits to be derived from this arrangement.
The former Works and Communication Minister maintain that the St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) are more than capable to operate the airport effectively.
“When you bring in a developer to develop our airport and to give them a lease of the airport for thirty years, you give them not just the $35 head tax that we were looking at but you also give them the present twenty-five dollar US tax that goes to SLASPA,” he explained.
According to him, the developer may end up getting as much as $60 per passenger who lands in St. Lucia to build an airport that is cheaper than the airport the UWP had intentions of constructing.
Joseph noted that the UWP’s plan for the HIA would have seen close to 900 people being employed. This he said is something that was taken away from the people of Vieux Fort.
“You didn’t like the contractor… then get rid of the contractor. Bring in a new contractor but go with the model and build the airport. You wanted to review the price? UWP didn’t have a problem with that. But to stall the project and make it look like now you want to do something…”
Back in June, SLASPA announced that it was working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to assist with the project and plans to pursue a Public Private Partnership (PPP).