An Opposition parliamentarian is calling on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to reassert Barbados’ position as a leader in the regional integration movement and help steer regional airline LIAT in the right direction.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Member of Parliament for St Michael South East Santia Bradshaw made the call as she expressed concern about the increasing cost of intra-regional travel and the complaints about LIAT’s service and scheduling.
Barbados is the largest shareholder government in LIAT. The others are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“There was a time when the Barbados Labour Party had a leader who was at the forefront of CARICOM [Caribbean Community] and the forefront of CSME [the CARICOM Single Market and Economy]. We don’t see the similar representations being made,” Bradshaw said today during debate in Parliament on the Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
“I believe it is time that Barbados has a voice again in relation to Caribbean integration and, in particular, as it relates to LIAT, because it does all of us an injustice when we hear criticisms being levelled [against LIAT] but we do not have any positive advancement of an airline that is so critical to the movement of our people throughout the entire region.”
Bradshaw urged Prime Minister Stuart not to remain silent on the issue.
On the domestic front, the BLP legislator said it was unclear what plan the Democratic Labour Party administration had for Barbados’ aviation sector.
She asked Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, who introduced the measure, to provide the country with the costs and the source of funding, given the country’s financial constraints, for his announced expansion of the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) and the proposed pre-feasibility study for a proposed airport in the northern parish of St. Lucy.
“This administration continues to makes pronouncements about things that it would like to do but does not tell the country how it plans to achieve what it says it would like to do,” the Opposition parliamentarian said.
Responding in his wrap-up, Sealy said it was still too early to give costs, since the proposal was only at the pre-feasibility stage.
He promised that the costs attached to the GAIA expansion would be made public once the budget was completed, and that the project would be completed on time and within budget.