KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Wednesday March 11, 2015, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has dismissed claims by a prominent businessman here that failure to build a new city at Arnos Vale, east of here, has led to his business going into receivership, placing more than 100 jobs on the line.
Work on the new city should have started in 2011 when the multi-million dollar Argyle International Airport, which is still incomplete, was expected to have become operational.
But Ormiston “Ken” Boyea, one of the island’s most celebrated entrepreneurs, who completed the construction of an EC$16 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) building to house a mall, supermarket and a KFC outlet in 2010, has blamed the delay in building the proposed new city for his KFC operations in the capital going into receivership.
“I jumped ahead and tried to beat the new city, and, quite frankly, I haven’t gotten it rented as I thought,” Boyea said.
But Prime Minister Gonsalves told reporters that he believes the “private sector entities in this country have a fair idea as to the reasons for the yanking of the KFC franchise.
I believe that people are very clear,” Gonsalves said, he had beent old that the franchise had been taken away from the prominent businessman.
“If it were not taken away, it would be continuing, because it makes money,” Gonsalves said, telling reporters that new cities take time to be built.
“Anyone seriously expect that you can build a whole city out at Arnos Vale there in less than five years?” he said.
He noted that during the financial crisis that began in 2008, the local economy was at its worst in 2009 and 2010, when it contracted by an aggregate loss of four per cent.
However, the island has been experiencing economic growth that Gonsavles described as “small, steady, not as big as it should be, because the recovery is still halted.
“But in 2010, Ken will tell you that KFC grew by five per cent plus over 2009,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.
“You and I know that Vincentians love KFC. Let me ask this question, you have two KFC, one downtown and one uptown, but a third one was opened in Arnos Vale. You would only open a third one if two can’t supply the demand…” Gonsalves said.
“I don’t know if it is a throw away line, but you wouldn’t be able to put the delay in building the city at Arnos Vale as a reason for KFC closure. I would have thought that the more important one is the one he (Boyea) made, that, listen I spent too much money to build the thing I build out at Arnos Vale. That’s what he said. That, to me is the germane issue. I am not analysing and parsing what he said,” Gonsalves told reporters.
Boyea said on Monday said that he has been unable to meet the mortgage payments for the EC$16 million investment, which does not include the price of the land.