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)[Barbados Today]
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