Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley is demanding full disclosure from Government of its plans for Sam Lord’s Castle, St Philip, which the administration is in the process of compulsorily acquiring.
Mottley told the House of Assembly today that there were too many unanswered questions.
She suggested that the resolution was now being debated with a “level of haste and is unsupported by any concrete statement by the Minister of Tourism that can tell us exactly where this project is in the planning stages”.
“We have before us the notion that it should cost $200 million; we have before us the notion that the financing may come from the EXIM Bank of China,” Mottley said.
”Can the minister tell the country whether there are firm proposals in relation to the costing and whether these costings come as a result of settled plans and settled bills of quantity that have been prepared by the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc.? If so, who are the architects? Who are the quantity surveyors that have prepared the settled bills of quantity?
“If these have not been done yet, to what extent do they have comfort in the amount that is being requested of the Chinese EXIM Bank to know that is likely to be the final costing?”
In response, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy pointed out that it was still “fairly early in the planning cycle” for the project.
While rejecting suggestions that the Opposition was being mischievous, Mottley insisted that the public needs answers, not only in relation to the true status of Sam Lord’s Castle, but Clico’s investment there as well.
“If ever there was a case therefore for total transparency, for full information coming on the heels of everything else that has been done, it is in this respect,” she told the House, explaining that this was of particular concern in light of Government’s increased debt and its ability to service that debt.
“We don’t object in principle to the notion of facilitating investment in hotel plants but where we want to be satisfied [are] the details underpinning what this Government is proposing to do and we say so because what they commit the country to would not be borne by them individually or the Democratic Labour Party or even the Barbados Labour Party but the taxpayers.”
Mottley said further: “If the minister concedes that there is not yet sufficient finality in even the choice of architect or the choice of quantity surveyor then he ought to let the country know that the intention to acquire [the property] has not come as a result of a detailed cost benefit analysis that is in his possession.”