Caribbean Community Heads of Government hosted a special conference, July 3, 2020. The conference was held virtually. (GP)
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Finding a solution to LIAT with the objective of safe, reliable, affordable travel in the region was one of the topics on which Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley touched today.
Mottley was participating in a virtual press conference with Caribbean Community (Caricom) heads of Government. The Twentieth Special Meeting of Caricom included Mottley handing over to Prime Minister of St Vincent Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who is taking over chairmanship for the next six months in the rotation cycle.
The Prime Minister noted that LIAT has been a critical part of our history, but it is possible the instruments that have served us in the past can no longer serve us in the future. She said that although the decision to liquidate LIAT was not easy, it was necessary.
She said the board of directors advised that due to heavy debt, "it is no longer possible to trade as LIAT (1974) Limited" and the company is effectively insolvent and that it needed to be liquidated.
Mottley listed six airlines which have expressed an interest in working in the Caribbean, particulary the southern Caribbean.
She said the private airlines can fill the gap because CARICOM governments need to use their funds to fix socio-economic issues within their countries, which are compounded by effects the of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Prime Minister welcomed the help of private airlines in providing regional travel as “many hands make light work”. Mottley also said the commitment remains to safe, affordable, reliable air travel in the region.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister of Antigua Gaston Browne announced that LIAT would be going into liquidation and was not in a position to pay debts to creditors, including employees. Browne did not attend today's meeting.
Another issue on which Mottley spoke was democratic elections in the region. She said it was an intense period for democratic elections in the region and named some countries which held elections in recent months, including Dominica, Guyana, St Kitts, Suriname and Guyana.
In the case of Guyana, she said it was regrettable that situation has not been resolved.
“Guyana has a bright future. . . and must have a bright future for all and not some,” she said.
Mottley also touched on treatment meted out to Caricom countries by the European Union (EU). She said she was opposed to the "naming and blaming" by the EU in relation to Caricom member states. She said that hitting a country when it was down, even when it had agreed to cooperate, is fundamentally wrong.
The Prime Minister said she did not support bullying of any form.
Another meeting has been scheduled for September. (KG)
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