Former Government Consultant, Mr. Claude Skelton-Cline has bemoaned that it is a continued waste of resources that the Government is going back to the proverbial drawing board with the much-talked-about T.B. Lettsome International Airport upgrade.
The matter was also recently raised by Fourth District Representative, Hon. Mark Vanterpool, who said based on the Mid-Term Fiscal Plan (MTFP), the project is heading back to the preparatory phase, which means that the project would be delayed for the next few years again.
Addressing the issue via his platform, Honestly Speaking, Skelton-Cline said, “I noticed that the Recovery and Development Agency issued a Request for Expression of Interest for consultancy services for route development and traffic forecast for the T.B. Lettsome International Airport. You hear stupidness?”
He continued: “The last time in the House about four or five years ago when a question was put to the then Minister, Dr. Kedrick Pickering, who was responsible for airports, regarding what monies had been spent in the development of the airport, at that time it was $10 Million going north under the then Government. That airport has been studied, and studied, lengthening, redirecting, planes – American, Delta, JetBlue, you name. It’s been studied upside and down, the pancake been flipped to the left, flipped to the right, flipped on the side, the pancake been left wanting to be burnt, the pancake been burnt, you name it.”
Waste of Resources
The former Consultant said undertaking these consultancy services at this stage is a waste of money.
“You mean to tell me to this day we still here talking about engaging consultancy services for route development and traffic forecast? You know what that tells me? That tells me with all this talk, we don’t intend to build no airport! It tells me that we ain't serious! It tells me that we ain't satisfied with the multi-millions of dollars already spent and we haven’t had one move at the airport, and here we are again talking about engaging consultancy.”
He added: “Now let’s be honest, the Government don’t have no money! The then Government didn’t have no money, this Government don’t have no money and the next Government, if this one continues, ain't going to have no money. You don’t spend your own money to build no airport! You don’t go borrow $200 million to go build no airport! Governments are not in the airport business; that airport needs to finally go out for a request for proposal for finance, design, build and operate. Use other people’s money to develop that airport; make some concessions that will benefit and advance your country on behalf of your people! Stop monkeying around and stop arguing between this party and that party…that is all nonsense!”
He said the BVI is at a loss and will only be worse off the longer the airport expansion remains in limbo.
“The question is not should we build an airport, we need an airport to enhance and expand the tourism product, for national security reasons, for a multiplicity of reasons we need to lengthen the airport and we need the airport to be financed, designed, built and operated by the private sector, not Government.”
He said this matter has been prolonged for too long. “Go take the studies off the shelf, dust them off and let’s glean from the best and let's go do what we gotta do.”
According to Hon. Vanterpool, based on the MTFP, the territory is hoping to finalize the debt strategy in 2022 and will be seeking loan financing for $143 million for the airport development.