Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne says he is anxiously awaiting word from the Barbados Government on whether it will write off millions of dollars in debt owed by regional carrier LIAT.
The decision, he told local media in St John’s, is critical to making severance payments to workers.
Browne, who suggested that much was riding on Barbados’ next move, since it is the airline’s largest shareholder, said there was little reason for the Mia Mottley-led administration not to give the nod of approval.
“We are now waiting to hear from Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the others within the region to get something definitive from them,” Browne told Antigua Breaking News.
“I don’t think it’s a hard decision to make. It’s not a difficult decision to make, because with liquidation they would have gotten nothing anyway, so they are no worse off writing it off compared to a situation in which . . . we had liquidated LIAT.
“So, I don’t see any reason why anyone would want to delay or to deny the decision. So, we expect a positive outcome from the other leaders within the region, to include Prime Minister Mia Mottley.”
LIAT has been grounded since March as a result of financial problems and low demand for its services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline’s administrator Cleveland Seaforth has written to regional governments for the write-off, saying that it would go a long way towards enabling the airline to resume services. The letter has requested a response by September 25.
Prime Minister Browne also pointed out that a debt write-off by Barbados would also benefit Barbadian pilots, who are among the unemployed.
“They, too, have a number of pilots and so on who are out in the wilderness trying to figure out what’s going down, if they’re going to get any severance,” Prime Minister Browne said.
“And I don’t think the administrator is in a position to guarantee any form of severance until such time as he would have gotten the write offs from the various member states.”
The Antiguan leader also noted that he is yet to receive a formal response from Vincentian Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
“…. But he’s given an undertaking that his government will write off the liability of $14 million, of which we’re appreciative of the fact that he’s standing in solidarity with us,” Browne said.
He expressed confidence that Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt would write off the arrears. (SD)
4 Replies to “Antigua PM awaits Barbados decision on write-off of LIAT debt”
Government owned airlines are a luxury that the Caribbean states cannot afford during this pandemic.
My suggestion is to let privately owned airlines do the job – and consider government owned services only as a last resort.
A new state owned airline might provide unfair competition because of subsidies, and also provide excuses for withholding financial help for the region.
I hope Mia Amor MOTTLEY could also suspend land taxes in Bim the same time if she writing off Liat debt
After pumping so much into it you now want us to write off debt are you crazy
Barbados and St Vincent have already given LIAT 1974 Ltd their shares for $1 , and now Guston Browne is asking them along with Dominica to write off their debts , this is ridiculous , if the other governments want to write off their debts , Barbados MUST not write off its debt and thereby guaranteeing the liquidation of LIAT 1974 Ltd which is a failed business concern.