31 Jul 2013

Vanuatu airport plans labelled absurd

1:34 pm on 31 July 2013

A former Vanuatu finance minister says the government's plans for Singaporean company, GMR, to build and run airports around the country are absurd.

The government has reportedly committed to a 350 million US dollar deal with the company to build or extend airports in various locations, operate them for 50 years and then hand them back to Vanuatu.

The prime minister says it will means the current tourism levels of just over 200,000 people a year will grow to five million.

But Willie Jimmy, who says he was sacked by the government two months ago for opposing the deal, says while better airports are needed, a much more cautious, measured approach should be taken.

"The Singapore company is proposing too big an investment for the country. The other thing is there is not enough beds, there is not enough hotels to accommodate the so called five million people expected through all these direct flights. Now this is just outrageous, it is absurd, I think. We need the airport but we need to develop on a stage by stage [basis]"

A former Vanuatu finance minister, Willie Jimmy