An Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) spokesman has dismissed a recent attack levelled against the BLP by its former representative for Christ Church West Dr Maria Agard, suggesting it’s merely a case of political sour grapes.
Speaking in Parliament last week during debate on the Estimates, Dr Agard, who is now a member of the fledgling United Progressive Party (UPP), suggested that the current crisis at the south coast sewerage plant really began with the former BLP Government and not with the current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration as the BLP has been espousing.
In fact, Dr Agard contended that the system was “fundamentally flawed from the start” and that “the problem with the south coast sewerage treatment facility started . . . with its implementation in the late 1990s and early 2000”.
However, addressing Sunday’s BLP meeting at Grantley Adams Memorial School, St Joseph, Member of Parliament for the constituency Dale Marshall accused Dr Agard of trying to mislead the public on the issue.
Marshall also suggested that little more could be expected at this stage from Dr Agard, who was recently booted out of the Mia Mottley-led BLP and has since sought political refuge within the bosom of the Lynette Eastmond-led UPP, which is yet to face the electorate in general elections.
“Never mind [Dr] Maria Agard who finds it convenient to say to the country that Barbados Labour Party created the problems,” Marshall said in dismissing her view on the sewage debacle.
“Now it suits her because it is politically expedient to make it appear as though the Barbados Labour Party is at fault,” he continued, adding that “it is public knowledge that the sewage treatment plant was designed [by the DLP] under [then Minister of Health] Brandford Taitt, now deceased, and that Brandford Taitt signed the contract for the funding, and that the Barbados Labour Party came to power and we built the plant that was designed and accepted by the Dems”.
During Sunday’s meeting, Marshall also zeroed in on the public transportation woes affecting the island, saying the current shortage of buses at the state-run Transport Board was a reflection of the general dysfunction in the country under the DLP.
His concern was shared by BLP St George North representative Gline Clarke, who reported that only 68 Transport Board buses were currently on the road with some 156 currently undergoing repairs.
Clarke also said the last time vehicles were bought was in 2006 under a BLP Government.
In response to reports that Government was now looking to engage private coaches and other private public service vehicles in order to move children to and from school and to fill other transport gaps, Clarke declared, “the private sector has taken over”.
“The situation in Barbados today means that the Government has virtually privatized the transport sector because the private sector . . . now has to come in not only to ply the routes but also to be involved in the school bus system”.
Those comments were supported by BLP St George South MP, Dwight Sutherland who accused the DLP administration of practising “politics by deceit” and “political skullduggery”.
“These are the same people who [in the 2013 campaign] put a lady on the bus and said to you the people of this country don’t vote for the Barbados Labour Party cause when they get in they will privatize Transport Board and the pensioners will have to pay bus fare.”
In her address, St Michael South Central candidate Marsha Caddle charged that Government was more interested in placing the Barbados National Terminal Company Ltd (BNTCL) in the hands of a single private owner and creating a monopoly than getting the US$100 million market value for the state-owned asset.
BNTCL is the island’s sole oil importer and distributor and the Fair Trading Commission recently rejected the proposed sale to the Sol Group because it would create an anticompetitive situation in Barbados.
Sol’s competitor Rubis had offered to pay half of the BNTCL foreign currency sale price to jointly operate the facility. However, no agreement has been reached on the matter with Caddle, an economist, contending that the “BNTCL [sale] is not about addressing the [island’s] foreign reserves problem because if that is what it was about, they [Government] would have taken the offer made by Rubis of the $50 million that they were offering to go half to make up the $100 million”.
“ . . . but it is not about the foreign reserves, don’t be fooled. This Government is in the business of creating monopolies to consolidate wealth in the hands of a privileged few in this country,” Caddle stressed.