Government contributed no money to the construction of the airport at Ogle

Dear Editor,

Mr Manzoor Nadir has responded in the Stabroek News, 5th March, 2018, to OAI’s statement, in which we set out the facts with regard to Nadir’s accusations that “one family should not enjoy the sweet of state, Guyana must benefit” and with regard to the funding of the development of the airport.

For Mr Nadir’s information, my company had been consulting with Ogle Airport Inc and attending meetings with government officials for well over 14 years, including the period that he served as a Minister.

Mr Nadir, surprisingly, given the information that he says was at his disposal when a Minister in the government, expresses his “appreciation to Kaieteur News” for what he calls “its exposure of the blatant denial, of taxpayers support, by Ogle Airport Inc (OAI)” by myself as Public Communications Consultant to OAI. Mr Nadir is batting on a very sticky wicket.

He is happy to endorse the Kaieteur News (since he is no longer in government), calling OAI and me liars when we stated that “not a penny of taxpayers money has been invested in the airport”.  No, we are not liars. The facts are as follows:

There were squatters already on the land long before OAI entered into its 2001 lease agreement with the government. The government was, therefore, obligated to remove the squatters. For the Kaieteur News to claim this to be a government investment in the development of the airport is farcical. In fact, OAI exchanged land and advanced the funding to the government to facilitate the relocation.

The EU grant was a grant to Caricom, not the Government of Guyana and was given for the extension of the runway to accommodate regional flights to Caricom Headquarters. It was therefore not Government of Guyana money. It did not come from the taxpayer’s pocket. As we pointed out before, it was wrongly converted into a loan by the previous government which OAI has been made to pay for.

We are truly surprised that Mr Nadir should support the ludicrous claim by Kaieteur News that the cost of resurfacing the Ogle Estate road which serves Pradoville 1, among other communities, is a GOG investment in the airport.

We repeat, every dollar (in cash) spent on the construction and development of the airport (the terminal, hangars, runways, taxiways, aprons, internal roadways, general infrastructure, etc) to complete both the Phase I and Phase II development was spent by OAI. Government contributed no money to the actual airport construction. We stand by this statement.

As is the case with any airport worldwide, including, for example, Heathrow in the UK, developed through a public/private partnership, it is the obligation and responsibility of the government to provide supporting services such as Fire Service, Police, Customs, Immigration, Port Health, Air Traffic Control, Inspection, etc. These services are not a government financial investment in the airport but are a requirement for the operations of an International Airport.

The control tower and the terminal building was built by OAI. The air traffic control equipment used in the tower, is owned and operated by the GCAA and is not an investment in the airport.

The recent solar panel installation at the airport by the GRA is part of a welcome national exercise, in which the airport is pleased to participate, and not an investment in the development of the airport.

That said, Mr Nadir continues to insist, again, without the facts at his disposal, that the airport is the beneficiary of the “State and taxpayers…generosity and making supernormal profits”.

The government is, in reality, receiving appreciable annual revenue from the operations of the airport. Over the last year alone, the government has received a total of $197,084,947 in direct revenues from the airport’s operations, including, but not limited to revenues from lease payments, taxes and rental.

Since 2001, the private investment in the development of the airport was always a high risk, long term investment over seventy-five years. It explains why the majority of the five original investors eventually backed away from their original commitment. As we have already pointed out, had it not been for the Correia family companies staying true to their commitment, there would today be no Eugene F Correia International Airport. In fact, after 15 years of an investment, to date, amounting to an excess of one billion dollars in the airport’s operations, OAI has only just paid its first dividend to its shareholders of $38 million.

The Ogle Airport Inc shareholders, in the meanwhile, have provided our country and our people, who are the major beneficiaries, with a first class urban regional international airport.

We feel sure that Mr Nadir’s intervention may have been well intentioned but, unfortunately, he is wrongly informed.  We repeat our invitation to him to come and visit the airport and answer any further questions he may have.

Yours faithfully,

Kit Nascimento

Public Communications Consultant

Ogle Airport Inc  

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