Two Opposition Members of Parliament have called on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to hold his ministers accountable for their actions in relation to the low-income Grotto/Dalkeith Woods project.
The high-rise units were initially estimated at $18 million. However, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is reporting that the cost to the National Housing Corporation (NHC) has since skyrocketed to $27.8 million, and is also seriously questioning why the units, which are now completed, remain vacant.
Addressing a BLP political meeting in St Michael South East Sunday night, BLP spokesman Trevor Prescod described the project as “a big act of incompetency”, while informing the meeting that in the coming weeks the ministers responsible for the project –– Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, former Minister of Housing Michael Lashley and his successor Denis Kellman –– will appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to be held accountable for their distribution of the public purse.
He also argued strongly that someone should be dismissed or held accountable for the massive loss sustained by Government.
“The minister who is responsible for that fundamental breach ought to step down, and if he doesn’t step down then the Prime Minister ought to ensure that the minister is removed from the ministry himself,” he said, adding, “I think the public deserves an explanation and aside from the explanation at present, somebody got to pay the price for this injustice to the Barbadian public.”
In a scathing attack on the entire Government, Prescod, who is the Opposition representative for St Michael East, also called on constituents to take a stand against corruption.
“This wicked trajectory, this axis of evil is existing in state power in Barbados and all you all remaining silent in this country and not understanding what is happening,” lamented Prescod.
Prescod’s sentiments were echoed by St Michael South East representative Santia Bradshaw.
Speaking on her home turf, Bradshaw charged that “if the Prime Minister can allow the Speaker of the House to get away with what he did and tell him get an attorney, then something was wrong at the very, very top”. This was in reference to recent charges made against Speaker Michael Carrington by a former client, who had accused him of withholding his funds.
Touching on the Dalkeith Woods project and a recent special audit of the NHC, Bradshaw said: “If it is found in Government that a minister has done something wrong or he has embarrassed the Government or they can’t find where the money that was supposed to be allocated to his ministry . . . there are principles of politics and governance that allow those ministers to resign of their own free will, or the prime minister would fire them.”
She also charged that “lots of money gone missing and people still poor, people still can’t get in houses in the Grotto and the Valery”.
The St Michael South East representative said Barbadians were losing faith in their Government as many of these issues remained unresolved.
“We are seeing at every level of society a disparity in the way that justice is administered and it is frustrating our people almost to the point that it’s like our people are starting to give up hope.”
Arguing that many of the island’s issues were being swept under the carpet, Bradshaw said, “What you want is a Barbados in which you can get a fair share of what is going around; that if someone has done something wrong they are held accountable and not that because ya know somebody or that you’re family to somebody or somebody’s friend that you get a different justification for what it is that you’re allowed to do”.