One of Barbados’ newest political organizations is demanding “full disclosure” on the pending $100 million sale of this island’s sole oil terminal to the Sir Kyffin Simpson-led Sol Group.
In a letter to Chief Executive Officer of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) Sandra Sealy, Political Leader of Barbados Integrity Movement (BIM) Neil Holder called for the facts to be laid bare on the proposed divestment of the state-owned Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL), which is due to be finalized by the end of the first quarter.
Holder also took issue with a two-week deadline issued by the FTC for members of the public to comment on the proposed sale, saying the idea appeared to be an “afterthought” by the regulator.
The BIM leader also suggested that FTC, which is due to issue a decision on the controversial sale, be delayed for another 21 days until March 8, 2017 to allow for at least four town hall meetings on the “very hazy transaction”.
Holder also complained that he had visited the office of the CEO of the FTC recently to secure a copy of the share purchase agreement, only to be told by a senior staff member there that the document was available for public viewing only.
He charged that there was no provision for copies to be made, saying such actions were in contravention of the Fair Competition Act, which commits the FTC under Section 20 “to engage fairly, prudently and honestly with regard to representing the interest of the people of Barbados”.
The BIM leader also took issue with a sales summary produced by Sol, saying no mention was made of the offer price or throughput rates agreed between Government and Sol.
Last month, Chief Executive Officer of Rubis Caribbean Mauricio Nicholls put the Freundel Stuart administration on notice that the company was prepared to pursue all legal avenues to prevent an oil storage monopoly, should the sale of BNTCL get the blessing of the FTC.
Nicholls had earlier revealed that Rubis was prepared to invest the tens of millions of dollars required to restore its defunct terminal facility at Spring Garden.
However, it has since been revealed that as part of the sale agreement, Government has committed to maintaining a single terminal here until 2032, albeit under private ownership.
In the meantime, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) today sought to qualify its February 25 statement regarding the sale of BNTCL.
“We regret that our original statement may have unintentionally appeared to favour one of the bidders over the other,” said the Chamber, which described both Sol and Rubis as valued members.
“Both [are] suitably qualified to own, operate and manage a terminal of this nature in a highly professional manner,” the Chamber added in a statement to the media this evening in which it said it continued to closely monitor the developments and looked forward to the FTC’s final ruling on the matter.