KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Persons interested in investing in this country do not have to be candidates for sainthood, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said at a press conference on Monday.
Gonsalves was speaking in response to a column in a local newspaper, in which Patrick Ferrari accused him of being unwilling to speak to Buccament Bay Resort investor Dave Ames.
Ferrari said the international airport being built at Argyle “cannot survive without Ames”.
“Ralph don’t dare pressure Ames because of the airport … It cannot survive without Ames so they can’t afford to vex the colonial marauder …” Ferrari wrote.
But Gonsalves said that some individuals in politics, along with newspaper columnists and callers to radio programmes, “a lot of times … have so many axes to grind.”
“What kind of rubbish is that?” he said of the column.
“And anybody who knows me, thinks that I will give somebody who is doing something that is wrong a free pass? But I don’t have to come out and say the way the Prime Minister of this country deals with A, B, or C investor. “That I not checking to see if anybody who is owed? What do they know what I do? They ask me? They have the common decency to come and ask me? But they just want to run off their mouth or run off their pen,” he said.
He said that it seems that only candidates for sainthood should come here as investors.
“I don’t know where they exist. And I hear they say that this fella … was bankrupt and yet they are allowed to come here to do business.
“Donald Trump was bankrupt two or three times and they were even looking at him seriously to run for the presidency of the United States.
“American Airlines, on which they come down from Miami or New York …, they flying in bankruptcy; Air Canada for quite a while.
“Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. is a mode of proceeding,” Gonsalves said and added “… bankruptcy is not a contagious disease, you know.
“It is the way people arrange their affairs if they find themselves in difficulty — a court-sanctioned way of getting themselves out of the problem to continue to do their business.”
He further said he wants “persons to be practical in going forward”.
“I want to know which businessman, which modern businessman, modern capitalist, I want to know where saintliness comes in. They [are] in … business, they are not charitable institutions. You want to make money.
“Of course, everybody has to abide by their obligation to pay their taxes, pay their bills. [If] they offend workers there are laws and so forth.
“But let us don’t appear as though we are just, at least some people, … going along and losing their practical sense as to how we have to live by holding firm to principles,” Gonsalves said.
The Buccament Bay Resort and Ames have come under scrutiny recently as some categories of workers there have not been receiving their salaries consistently.
There have been questions about the legitimacy of Ames and his companies even as U.K. residents sue Harlequin Properties (Caribbean) Ltd., a company registered here, over monies they deposited to build cabanas on a beach resort in the Dominican Republic.