By Latrishka Thomas
“We have to look at creative means if we are going down this road… let us look beyond the movement of people,” said Opposition leader Jamale Pringle regarding plans to restructure LIAT.
Pringle, while speaking in parliament on Saturday, called on the government to “present the plan so people know exactly, because its taxpayers are who are paying and providing these monies that you’re using.”
In fact, he stated that the central government “should have called all stakeholders, even the Opposition, to have a discussion on this matter, not get summoned to an emergency meeting of parliament three days before and then get the Bill 24 hours before.”
To that end, the Member of Parliament for All Saints East and St Luke put forward several suggestions for the new and improved airline.
“You have avenues such as the cargo which is a critical part of any economy. LIAT must start looking and reaching out to companies, for example, look at Amazon – the leading company that deals with distribution of goods and services – and now use that and use this situation to create a relationship with Amazon…for moving goods from the US throughout the Eastern Caribbean,” he recommended.
He added that LIAT QuikPak has been underutilised.
But further to that, Pringle said that LIAT can be used to train aspiring engineers because “it cannot be business as usual”.
The Opposition leader also called for politicians to be removed from LIAT’s board of directors. In lieu, he suggested that persons trained in aviation should manage the new entity.
Lastly, Pringle lobbied for a reduction in flight costs to neighbouring countries.
“We must look at a way of reducing the cost of travelling to a nearby country. If it’s Caricom, there is one set tax, Caricom picks up on behalf of the shareholder government and if it’s on a yearly basis, disburse to the different shareholders and those who do not invest have a higher rate of taxes,” he said.
Pringle was speaking in light of changes being made to the Companies Act 1995.
The Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020 was debated in the lower house with the intention of providing rehabilitative options to insolvent corporate debtors.
According to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, under the 1995 Act, one can only “liquidate by selling the assets on a piecemeal basis of a company or you can sell the assets on a wholesale basis to a new entity to do a quick transition from old to new”.
He said that the changes are to ensure that “companies who may have solvency issues but at the same time may have a strong business brand, doing a significant amount of business and also companies that are significant to the economic wellbeing of the country and its people, will have an additional option” to liquidation.
The Bill was passed in the lower house with several amendments.