With the opening of Parliament now out of the way, independent Senator Caswell Franklyn says he will be pushing forward with legislation to “annul” some of the last minute deals allegedly made by the former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government.
It was during a press briefing last week that Prime Minister Mia Mottley accused the former Freundel Stuart administration of “picking the duck’s back bare”, while revealing a number of dubious agreements which she said were approved by the last Government mere days before the May 24 general election and even after Parliament had automatically dissolved on March 6.
“A contract and a letter was signed with a company called Global Ports Holding PLC, that will see them receiving a 30-year concession to operate the Barbados Cruise Pier for a paltry sum of US$34 million and in exchange they would have the Barbados Port Inc, pursuant to a concession agreement, assign its right to collect certain charges from cruise lines directly and the Government would receive instead a service fee pursuant to the service agreement [for] which we have not yet seen what that fee is,” Mottley had disclosed, adding that she had asked the Attorney General Dale Marshall and the lawyers for the Bridgetown Port to look into the issue as a matter of urgency, “particularly since this contract seems to be tied to a Berth Six contract” at the Port.
The Prime Minister also revealed that a range of tax concessions were given by the Ministry of Finance to Berth Five Projects Limited “in the middle of the [election] campaign” as well as to Vision Developments Inc., the company behind the proposed US$100 million Hyatt Centric Resort project.
“Perhaps the most egregious part of it was one [concession] that was for a 2018 Mercedes Coupe, while Parliament no longer existed, to be used for the Director of Sales involved in the Hyatt hotel,” Mottley said, adding that “there is this attempt, and it is coming across from every ministry, to be able to tie any new Government’s hands with the appointment of personnel or the renewal or appointment or development of contracts and leases”.
Immediately following his swearing in yesterday, Senator Franklyn served notice that he intended to have the DLP agreements voided.
“The last Government gave out there a lot of tax concessions and I believe it is wrong, I know it is wrong and it has to come to the Senate and it has to come to the House. If the House does not resolve to annul them, then the Senate can,” he said, explaining that “we have 40 days after they are laid [and] they have not been laid yet because the House was not in session when they were made”.
“I am waiting with bated breath to move a resolution to annul them. We are struggling for resources in this country and we can’t [filter] them away because we have good friends who want concessions,” the outspoken trade unionist said.
He also said he was going after so-called last minute contracts signed just before the May 24 election.
“It is unfair you have people with contracts with a year going on them and then you renew them for five years. Even though the boards and the ministers had the power to do it, they did it improperly. It is called misfeasance in public office, it is a crime and I am going to lobby to see that something is done about that crime.
“You cannot be choosing Government’s resources, the people’s resources to feather the nest of your friends. It is wrong . . . we cannot have these fancy arrangements for people who just come in by the way, mind you who do not do a lot of work anyhow. It has to stop. It is corruption,” Franklyn maintained.