After making nearly $150 million in payments to contractor Al Barrack, Government is still leasing the Warrens Office Complex at Warrens, St Michael from Barrack Construction Ltd, Minister of Housing Denis Kellman revealed today in the House of Assembly.
Speaking during debate on a $13.7 million supplementary vote to complete the payment of legal fees to Barrack’s attorneys – Sir Richard Cheltenham, QC; Sir Maurice King, QC; Sir Trevor Carmichael, QC; and Douglas Trotman – Kellman argued that these inherited expenses had proven burdensome to the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration.
“This is a matter that has been pending for a long time, and in these economic times this Government has had to find these sums to pay this large bill, which has nothing to do with the previous construction cost. “When one considers that the previous cost would have been in the range of $70 million and then the legal cost, which means that as it stands right now, the Government would have paid out nearly $150 million on this particular project,” he said.
Nine years after a High Court ordered the then Barbados Labour Party-led administration to shell out $34 million for his part in completing the Warrens Office Complex in St Michael, Barrack was finally paid last year.
However, his settlement ended up being more than twice the original judgment, due to accrued interest with Kellman complaining today that even though this sum had been paid, Government was still leasing the building from Barrack Construction Ltd because the debt was not totally settled.
“People sometimes ask why is it that we cannot find money to carry out debushing; we cannot find money to repair roads, but when one considers that on assuming office Government not only had to deal with the accrual system, where we had to pick up all the expenditure, which was not previously paid by the Barbados Labour Party, [but] we were saddled with a bill of over $77 million, which has nothing to do with the prison,” he said, adding that given the global economic situation “one can understand the type of strain the Government was under”.
However, amid the difficulties, he gave the assurance that the DLP would seek to bring the entire Barrack saga to a close while contending that as far back as the September 6, 2006 this matter should have been completed since the debt was accumulating interest at the rate of ten per cent per annum.