“We are as committed today as we were before,” Foreign Affairs Minister, EP Chet Greene said as he reiterated the government’s commitment to the preservation and development of Caribbean Community (Caricom), despite the ongoing issues stemming from LIAT’s impending liquidation.
On Saturday, members of the grouping flew the Caricom flag as part of Caricom day celebrations, following Barbados’ move late last month.
Greene told Observer that Antigua and Barbuda’s commitment to the Caricom cause remains unwavering, despite the reality of the LIAT situation.
“We are still members of Carico. We may have an ongoing issue that is yet to be resolved on the respect of LIAT, but does not in any way take away from our commitment to regional integration. As a matter of a fact, it is our belief in regional integration that has us spearheading this issue of LIAT because LIAT is quintessentially about integration and the movement of people across the region,” he remarked.
With that, Greene, on Saturday, confirmed that – like the other Caricom countries – Antigua and Barbuda would have been participating in the raising of the flag, in celebration of Caricom Day 2020.
He said: “The Caricom flag is apart of Antigua and Barbuda’s regional embrace Caricom day. We are founders of this whole thing…and we will not shy away from our responsibilities.”
Greene added that the government is also determined to resolve the ongoing LIAT fiasco.
Late last week, news broke that the twin island would not be represented at Friday’s special conference of Caricom leaders, where Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley is to hand over the chairmanship of the 15-member regional grouping to her St Vincent and the Grenadines counterpart, Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne was notably absent at the meeting, which he refused to attend because people would “lecture me on LIAT”.
While Browne and his Cabinet are developing to plan for a new LIAT, other regional leaders have suggested that six air carriers that expressed an interest, could take over LIAT’s travel routes.
The government’s plan, as stated in Wednesday’s post-Cabinet report, is in keeping with the requirements set out by the shareholder governments. “That plan is to be developed in the shortest possible time and to be ready in a few days. The Antigua and Barbuda Government is committed to investing an amount of US$15,000,000 to US$20,000,000 towards the new LIAT,” the notes said.
“A decision was taken to have the Registrar of Companies in Antigua and Barbuda, acting under the Companies Act, to reserve the LIAT 2020 Ltd new company name. Antigua and Barbuda stands opposed to the liquidation of LIAT 1974 Ltd without a plan to create the necessary connectivity which regional integration requires,” the notes added.