The Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) will write off over $14 million that it is owed by LIAT 1974 Ltd in Administration.
Speaking on NBC Radio on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said he received a letter on August 25 from the Administrator of the grounded regional airline, asking that its debts be waived.
He said the total debt the carrier owes SVG is just over $14.5 million, of which $12 million is owed to the Argyle International Airport.
“I have no problem in writing off the debt that LIAT owes to us,” The Prime Minister said.
“The effect of the write off of the debt would significantly improve the realizable value which could be derived from the assets of the company and will go a long way towards enabling the company’s return to flying operations,” Gonsalves read from the Administrator’s letter.
“I will do anything to help my friend Gaston [Browne, prime minister of Antigua] in getting LIAT up…,” the Vincentian prime minister said.
While Gonsalves and Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados have said their countries have no interest in going forward with further operations of the airline, Browne, the third of the three major shareholders is putting together a plan which he hopes will see LIAT take to the skies again before too long.
LIAT’s most recent staff complement, prior to the cessation of flying operations, was 667 persons, spread across all territories to which the carrier flew, Gonsalves read.
“The write off of the debt as stated above will enhance the employees’ prospects and settling the indebtedness of these employees,” the Administrator said.
“So by writing off, I am hoping that I can put LIAT in a position where they can say something to the workers. And I will meet the LIAT workers now that I have a letter from the Administrator,” Gonsalves said.
Two weeks ago, members of the local LIAT workers union said their patience and understanding were waning thin after nine weeks of being unable to secure a meeting with Gonsalves to discuss matters relating to the regional carrier’s liquidation.
“Remember I said I had nothing new to tell them,” the Prime Minister said.
“This does not give an answer to their issue, but I have something new to tell them.”
The LIAT Administrator asked that the Government of SVG respond to the request by September 25, 2020.
“I had said before they asked me, that I would do it. But now that they ask formally, I will just have to go to Cabinet, as I do not run a one man Government,” the Prime Minister said.
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