Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Christ Church West candidate Dr William Duguid today called on Government to come clean on the sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL), while accusing it of selling the country short.
Back in 2011, Parliament had approved a resolution for BNTCL “to construct new terminal facilities and to expand and upgrade the distribution and management systems of the company”.
That project was to be financed by way of a loan and bond issue to BNTCL from the Barbados National Bank Inc and BNB Finance and Trust Corporation to the tune of BDS$120 million and on the terms set out in the schedule.
Based on the size of that loan, Dr Duguid argued that anything less than $120 million for the sale of BNTCL was unacceptable.
However, based on the recent Estimates of Revenue of Expenditure presented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler he noted that Government was currently projecting earning of between $75 million to $100 million from the sale of the statutory corporation.
Complaining that the entire BNTCL deal was shrouded in way too much secrecy, Dr Duguid contended that if the figure given in the recent Estimates was correct, then the country as a whole stood to lose out from the sale of the asset.
“So if now the Democratic Labour Party administration has opted to sell a significant asset that belongs to the people of Barbados for essentially half price, I think the people of Barbados have a right to know exactly what that deal was about, how that deal was structured, what is happening to the debt and what is the benefit to the people of Barbados of selling an asset at half the price that it cost the people of Barbados,” argued Dr Duguid, who was recently nominated to carry the BLP banner in the southern riding.
“So I am very concerned. These deals cannot be shrouded in secrecy. When the Government negotiated the loan it was done in Parliament in full view of everybody. When the contract was done it was in full view of everybody. It cannot be that the Government of the day decide to sell an asset in secrecy, and does not give us the details of the sale. This is absolutely not good enough,” he insisted.
Sinckler, who revealed last Thursday night that Government was now “waiting on a cheque” to finalize the sale of the statutory corporation, was reluctant to provide any further details on the transaction.
However, Dr Duguid said, “We need to know what the structure of the debt was. It cannot be done in secrecy . . . Unless the person is taking over the debt, which then means the total value of the sale is the cost of the debt plus the cost of the equity. But in any event it cannot be done in secrecy and we have to be very concerned about it”. (MM)