Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn has accused the current administration of “rushing legislation through to facilitate their friends without carefully considering all the facts behind them”.
He levelled the allegation in the Senate during debate on a resolution to acquire land at Harrismith, St Philip for housing and tourism development – a move that he said should be put on hold until more information was forthcoming.
Senator Franklyn questioned the legality of the transaction since the company that originally owned the land no longer existed.
“We are acquiring this property from Marriott Barbados Limited, and there is no such company in Barbados and there hasn’t been one since 29th December 1998. Marriotts Barbados Limited and Grants Holdings Limited were amalgamated to form Grant Hotels Inc., and that information is at the Corporate Registry, dated and registered in 1998, so we are acquiring this land from a company that does not exist,” he said in the Upper House.
Senator Franklyn further questioned whether the necessary due diligence was carried out and said the matter should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for closer scrutiny.
“We are hearing that due diligence was done, but how did this get past these professionals unless they aren’t doing their work properly? In 2016, the then Government attempted to acquire those lands, and I have heard that they had not paid for it since then. Now, you can pay for land incrementally, but if for whatever reason you stop paying for it, it reverts to the original owner. Something like this should be passed to the DPP for investigations,” he said.
The Senator also expressed concern that the current Opposition did not have the necessary funding to carry out a proper investigation of the issue.
“It is not fair for us to have this resolution done without canvassing the public; let people know what you are doing. If my information is accurate, this acquisition would be a major scandal for this country. We already have to suffer through the embarrassment of having one former minister being tried and convicted in New York for misdeeds done here,” he said, referring to former Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss who was convicted in a US court, last month, of laundering bribes.
Franklyn suggested that the resolution on the land acquisition should be delayed until all the facts surrounding it were clarified.
“Too many things come to this Parliament that you have to go back and fix. Yes, the last administration did some terrible things and you have criticized a lot of them, but the things you are not criticizing are when you have common friends, and this is one of them. Delve into this to make sure that it is correct, don’t rush off and do the wrong thing because the person they were doing it for is also one of your friends. This administration has a policy of facilitating its friends through the power of Parliament; this is misplaced and further consideration should be given to this bill.”