Workers at the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc. (GAIA) are to be offered shares in that corporatized state enterprise in an arrangement which will also see the nation’s lone airport being run by a concessionaire, Prime Minister Mottley has revealed
In a meeting with airport workers, Mottley said significant infrastructural work was coming to the airport and that Government was in talks with the private sector arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, which is about to conclude an agreement to work with Government.
In a Government statement, it was disclosed that the proposed structure, which is yet to be formally approved by Cabinet, is to allow Government to retain ownership, while issuing a concession to “an outside entity that will be bid internationally”.
The concession, she said, would allow for significant expansion of the airport, including the addition of just under 30,000 square metres in order for Barbados to become “the hub of choice for the southern cone”, the Government Information Service release continued.
“The ownership of the airport stays with us,” Mottley declared. “We are not giving away anything . . . . The bottom line is that that injection of capital that we need and infusion of systems that we need we believe we can get by giving out a concession.”
The Prime Minister told the workers that while the final numbers would depend on the accounting formula, it was expected that about 20 to 25 per cent of the shares in GAIA would be available to the workers as well as the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
“We will keep faith with you and create a framework in which all of the workers can share . . . . We need the accounting firms to come in and advise us on how best to be able to do that for every category of worker at the airport,” Prime Minister Mottley said.
She told airport workers of plans to improve efficiency, including a decision to remove immigration officers from the departure area by year end.
With the establishment of the Joint Regional Communications Centre which tracks the movement of all passengers entering the country, the service provided by Immigration at departure was no longer necessary, she said.
The Automated Passport Control (APC) system installed in the Arrivals hall by the last administration is on course for operation in January and the Embarkation/Disembarkation (ED) cards all passengers must fill out on arrival and departure will be abolished.