ROSEAU, Dominica, Tuesday November 27, 2012 – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has defended the decision of his administration to become a shareholder in the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, saying the airline is an important contributor to Dominica’s tourism industry.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who is also chairman of the airline, has been appealing to regional countries to become shareholders in the Antigua-based airline, whose principal shareholders are Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Skerrit told a news conference that his government would soon disclose just how much it is prepared to invest into the inter-regional airline.
“The decision of the government of Dominica to invest in LIAT still stands. We will continue to proceed with it. We believe it is in the best interest of Dominica, it is in the best interest of all the people who have invested their life earnings in the tourism industry in Dominica.
“They can say all what they want about LIAT. All the criticism we can levy against LIAT, but LIAT is the only carrier that can take us from Dominica to Antigua or St. Vincent to Grenada. If we are prepared to ensure that we have transportation within the region to engender greater spirits of integration, to bring in more tourists to our island, we have to play our part with LIAT”.
Skerrit said that if regional governments fail to support LIAT, “you will have greater difficulty in getting the private sector to come forward.
“In large measure, LIAT is providing a public service to the region,” he said, noting that his technical team held talks with the new LIAT management and “they have submitted to me as to our involvement in LIAT and that should go to the Cabinet soon for the Cabinet ratification.
“As to the quantum we will in the next week or so, be in a position to indicate how much we will invest. We are firmly committed to LIAT because we see it is as a means of protecting the investments and the gains that were made particularly with regards to tourism.