Vincentian minister appeals for investment

Vincentian Minister of Economic Planning Camillo Gonsalves addresses town hall meeting.
Photo by Nelson A. King

As the Argyle International Airport nears completion, new Vincentian Economic Planning Minister Camillo Gonsalves is appealing to nationals in the Diaspora to invest in the country before it’s too late, saying that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is poised to “take off.”

In addressing a town hall meeting Sunday night, at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn, Gonsalves a former foreign affairs minister and erstwhile ambassador to the United States, said “there are investment opportunities, because St. Vincent and the Grenadines is taking off.”

“We’ve come to you first and say, ‘what you can do for your country,’” said the eldest son of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves, who also holds the portfolios of minister of Sustainable Development, Industry, Information and Labor, flanked by Tourism, Sports and Culture Minister Cecil “Ces” McKie, as he listed several projects that he said the government has on stream on completion of the Argyle International Airport by June this year.

“Land in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is going to get more expensive; rental apartments are going to go up; those will soon be gone,” added Gonsalves, speaking at his first town hall meeting in Brooklyn since becoming an elected minister of government in the general elections on Dec. 9. “And we can’t let the New York Diaspora lose out on things in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And it’s time to reap some of the benefits in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“You can build something in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I’m getting something from the Canadians and the British every day, but I’m not getting enough from [Vincentians in] Brooklyn,” Gonsalves continued. “You can keep your 9-5 [job] and have a little thing on the side in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Where are you? This is a serious opportunity to get to the ground floor before the elevator takes off.

“The Black community buys a lot of things from other people. You have the opportunity [to have] for Vincentian-owned businesses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.

The economic planning minister noted that the Vincentian community in New York, particularly in Brooklyn, has a “very rich tradition of supporting St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“You donate to VincyMas [the national carnival], you make donations,” he said. “When you add up all the money you send to your family, to your church…, even though you think you don’t have it, you have it [to invest].

“I want you to realize that the airport will not transform St. Vincent and the Grenadines overnight, but it’ll [St. Vincent and the Grenadines] be transformed quickly,” Gonsalves added. “You will have to help us retain what you love about St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We need your ideas, your investment,” he urged. “St. Vincent and the Grenadines is at the crossroads, let us hold our hands, and let us walk together.”

Among other projects Gonsalves said the incumbent Unity Labor Party (ULP) has in the pipeline are the transformation of the current E.T. Joshua Airport into a city, with a shopping mall and a new state-of-the-art hospital, among others; hotel construction at Mt. Wynne and Peter’s Hope in Central Leeward; new cruise ship berth in Lower Kingstown, or Rose Place; and development of geothermal energy.

A section of the audience at the Vincentain town hall meeting.
Photo by Nelson A. King

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