Baldwin Spencer blasts Antigua prime minister on LIAT

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Opposition Leader Baldwin Spencer has accused Prime Minister Gaston Browne of being “bombastic”

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Tuesday March 31, 2015, CMC – Opposition Leader Baldwin Spencer has accused Prime Minister Gaston Browne of being “bombastic” in his approach to dealing with the problems facing the Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT.

“I find that he is just arrogant and bombastic and is just creating all sorts of problems in saying whatever he likes, however he likes and just getting at individuals without sitting down and thoroughly examining what is required to be done and how we are going to get the cooperation and understanding of other persons.

“You can’t deal with that LIAT matter from a point of view of being arrogant and bombastic,” Spencer told listeners to Observer Radio here.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Browne said he would treat as “treason’ plans for a new airline to compete with LIAT.

Browne said that he would also be seeking the resignation of the airline’s chief executive officer, David Evans, if the plans about the new carrier prove to be true.

The document, allegedly authored at LIAT senior management, proposes that a Barbados air carrier be established with its own Air Operators Certificate (AOC) and Route Licensing Authorisation.

The new company would effectively replace the majority of existing LIAT services throughout the region and would seek to develop new markets.

Prime Minister Browne also called for a change in the chairmanship of the airline, saying he doesn’t “see why one prime minister should control the chairmanship of LIAT” and that it should be rotated.

“These are some of the issues affecting LIAT, I mean only one person has brains out of all of the shareholder governments. I am saying there ought to be changes at the level of the directorship, even in terms of the share holding positions of the various governments, I believe the shares of Barbados should be diluted because they believe because they have the majority shares that everything must move to Barbados,” he added.

LIAT is owned by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves warned Monday warned against making unflattering statements about the airline, saying it could undermine confidence in the business operations of cash-strapped carrier.

Prime Minister Browne said that his predecessor had been “cordial” with the other shareholders and as a result “they pulled the rug from under him…

“I understand that he believed so much in them that whenever they had discussions they allowed him to talk and he would say ‘look I accept the recommendations of the other prime ministers who spoke.

“I don’t think it was a case that he did not have a contribution to make, he chuckled at them when they had their sinister motives,” Browne said, adding “I am saying here not under my leadership”.

But Spencer dismissed the allegations saying that Prime Minister Browne was trying to shift the blame from himself.

“You are the government, you came to office in June (last year) it is now your responsibility,” Spencer said, adding that “it is absolute rubbish” for the prime minister to now seek to put blame on others.

Former finance minister Harold Lovell was also critical of the approach taken by Prime Minister Browne on the LIAT issue saying that he should not have called publicly for the resignation of the airline’s chief executive over the matter.

“If the CEO is talking out of turn and if the CEO is putting out a proposals that are clearly not in the interest of LIAT, the same CEO you may need to go and talk with him,” Lovell added.

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