Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has been advised to try to find a way out of the Cahill Energy gasification project and to salvage Barbados’ reputation.
Stuart broke his silence on the controversial waste-to-energy project at the monthly meeting of the St James South Constituency branch on Sunday night, telling DLP supporters no decision had been taken on the issue and there was no need for alarm.
However, former Attorney General Dale Marshall today accused Stuart of trying to distance himself from the multi-million dollar project, which has faced stiff opposition from Barbadians. He contended that there was a “a haphazardness” about the process.
“I don’t think that the Prime Minister has this in mind,” Marshall said in reference to the Prime Minister’s utterences on the deal to have the plant here.
During his speech on Sunday night Stuart, who is responsible for the Town Planning department, indicated that it is the Chief Town Planner who recommends approval or disapproval for the construction of buildings and the Prime Minister has the final say.
Describing the Prime Minister’s comments as “absurd, empty statements”, Marshall said the “brutal reality” was that the country has been committed to the agreement.
He recalled that Cahill Energy publicized that it had signed an agreement with the Government of Barbados for the construction and operation of a waste-to-energy plant.
“I have to ask how is it possible that ministers could have been given approval to sign an agreement and now the Prime Minister seems to want to distance himself from it? I think it demonstrates poor governance. I certainly am not satisfied with his response. There is a haphazardness about the entire thing that worries me,” he said.
Marshall described as “nonsense” Stuart’s assurance that the project “can’t happen without his say so” after the agreement had been signed.
“I don’t take any comfort in that. His Cabinet ministers would have had Cabinet’s permission before they signed the agreement. You don’t sign an agreement for such significant expenditure and then seriously want to tell people that the agreement was signed, but the decision was not made. When you agree, you have agreed,” he stressed.
The former Attorney General contended that the Prime Minister’s effort to bring a calm to the controversy was not helpful because, having signed the agreement, Cahill Energy expected Government to honour its commitment.
“If we now back out of this agreement, it will satisfy a lot of us, but the truth is, it will damage the reputation of our country which will be known as a country that does not honour its commitments,” he said.