Financial Comptroller at the Mustique Company Limited, Steven Joachim has apparently indicated that he would no longer appear on the Boom Fm Radio morning show with Dwight ‘Bing’ Joseph after receiving a stinging rebuke from Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves for what the PM described as, “monumental falsehoods”.
The Prime Minister slammed Joachim for making statements claiming there is no financial report for the completed Argyle International Airport (AIA).
Gonsalves chided Joachim, saying he is taking the position of the the leader of the Opposition, Dr. Godwin Friday, who also said there were no accounts for the AIA; “which is wrong” said Gonsalves, adding that “he [Joachim] should have found out; checked it himself”.
Dr Gonsalves also dismissed Steven Joachim’s claim that the AIA has bankrupted St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Gonsalves said SVG ran a EC$59 million surplus on its current accounts in 2016. The Prime Minister said, “this country pays its debt-how could it be bankrupt? We [SVG] haven’t defaulted on any debt”
The PM says Steven Joachim in his capacity as a Financial Controller, “he is a professional.” He said, “when Friday speaks, or some other politician speaks, or even Dougie Defrietas, who is a political activist, you would discount whatever he is saying because he is involved in the traffic of partisan politics.
Bu when the man who carries the title of Financial Controller-people will say well boy, maybe he had something there-it carry extra weight, so it is my duty to say to him, the issue relating to bankruptcy involving expenditure, out of the consolidated fund, you have to deal with revenue, and I asked him, since he so patriotic to talk about these questions; I asked some pertinent questions of him, in relation to certain matters of which he would have personal knowledge”.
The PM said he had to go to Parliament for approval to access funds through loans and again for approval for the appropriation of the money and those accounts are there in the Annual Estimates.
“The monies which I borrowed for IADC [International Airport Development Company]. So there is a report on them, what is happening, how much you paying, all of that. It’s there inside the Estimates”, said Gonsalves.
He went on further saying that is an entirely different question than the matter of the audited accounts. “These are simply things you know, if you just take the time to understand them” said the PM.
PM Gonsalves dismissed suggestions that he has done anything to muzzle Steven following his announcement that he would no longer appear on Boom. Gonsalves said “I can’t muzzle
Steven Joachim. Steven is not employed by me. No body can say that I try to muzzle anybody, even people inside the public service. I always say this is a free and democratic country.
If you want to talk then I also must have the right to speak. And you come and you speak two falsehoods, monumental falsehoods, you’re a professional, you’re a Financial Controller of a company…and you make these two monumental falsehoods about project of such existential significance to this country, well then; you don’t expect me to respond? You don’t expect me to take you on? Are you immune? Are you a sacred cow?
Dr. Gonsalves says he regards the statements made by Joachim as an attack on the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government and a personal attack on him in his capacity as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
The Opposition New Democratic Party has been calling on the ruling ULP administration to furnish audited financial reports for the AIA project.