The President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Verla De Peiza wants Government to come clean about White Oak.
Responding to criticism in the Financial Times newspaper of Barbados’ engagement of White Oak, Depeiza said it was time for the Mia Amor Mottley led Barbados Labour Party to say how and what consultancy firm White Oak was being paid; where was the tendering process, and who were the other players tendering for the consultancy.
According to the Financial Times, a little-known UK advisory firm stands to make about $27 million from the restructuring of Barbados’ $7bn in debt, close to what Lazard earned seven years ago when it advised Greece on defaulted debt nearly 40 times bigger.
Speaking at today’s DLP lunchtime lecture at the George Street, Belleville, St Michael, headquarters, De Peiza questioned why international players were reporting in the financial times that Barbados was paying White Oak six times the normal fee.
“And I had to take note of a quote from that article. ‘By any metric or rationale the fee is outsized and unwarranted’. That is not the assessment of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), but that holds our fullest endorsement and we call upon the Government of Barbados to give its answers to the people of Barbados,” the president said.
De Peiza said the country has been told that White Oak was a firm with an excellent reputation in terms of debt restructuring, but noted that now Barbados’ international creditors were sounding their disquiet about the nature of the contract.
“It is almost a year since that contract was put in place. As far as we are aware, the only advice that came from White Oak that was being followed was don’t pay your debts. That is a significant sum to pay, to be told don’t pay your debts.
“And in this new era for Barbados of transparency, we need to know especially since we are being told that Barbados has no money. How is White Oak to be paid? How do you play the austerity card with the people of Barbados, and pay one firm such a hefty sum of money?”
The president also indicated that “while we are investigating one contract with a consultant”, she believes it was time Government informed the country about the specifics regarding all of the consultancies, particularly those in relation to the Ministry of Finance.
“We have to know, we are entitled to know. The people of Barbados insisted at the last election, for their right to know. The election was fought, and one of the pegs was transparency. It is clear that this is what the people of Barbados want. The Democratic Labour Party is determined to deliver on behalf of the people of Barbados, and seek answers for these questions. The one-year anniversary of this Government is coming up, and may I suggest that by the 24th of May, this present administration have the answers for the people of Barbados,” she said.