At a news conference in New York on Saturday, Mottley suggested that persons doubting the process of vaccinations, at a time when there is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, are doing a disservice to the country and people’s lives.
Mottley said: “When I heard the leader of the Democratic Labour Party seeking to find something to throw mud at I said to myself, does the leader recognize that she is functioning as the leader of a main political party that has at sometime to ask itself, how it is helping the country get through this difficult moment, and how it is helping the country save lives?.
“And if the only way is to try to throw mud in hope that the mud will stick, well then I say to her, ‘My dear, you are going down the wrong road.’ I know what it is to have led an opposition party, perhaps longer than most in our country. And I know what it is to determine what battles are worthy of opposition, and what battles require the country to come together”.
Radical Investment, owned by construction magnate Mark Maloney, is alleging that it has been swindled out of US$10.6 million it paid for ultimately non-existent doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on behalf of the Barbados Government, through the American based company Good Vibrations.
On Wednesday, Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw made it abundantly clear that no taxpayer resources have actually been expended or directly given to the company for the particular sourcing of the vaccines. Bradshaw said the agreement with Radical was established at a time when the world was in a desperate vaccine race and Government was hearing offers from private entities capable of sourcing the commodity.
However, during a press conference on Thursday, DePeiza, who dismissed Bradshaw’s defence as lacklustre, called for the full details of the deal to be revealed and explained clearly to Barbadians. DePeiza, an attorney-at-law, said it is not enough to say that Government has not paid out any money and noted that if taxpayers suffered any loss is dependent on the agreement between the agent and the principal.
With respect to the issue, Mottley said she has already indicated on Wednesday evening that there is no contract with Radical Investment. Mottley reminded that earlier this year, it was like the wild west trying to get vaccines for Barbados, just as it was difficult sourcing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) a year ago.
“And those were the ones we paid some money towards and when we realized that the vaccines were not coming from them in a hurry and that we were getting vaccines from elsewhere, on behalf of the Government, I instructed the Director of Finance to ask back for our money, all of which came back since months ago,” she said.
Mottley noted that the concerns of DePeiza were also met with a firm statement from the COVID Relief Charity, which also did not have any dealings with the controversy.
Prime Minister Mottley suggested that the allegation is about the fact that the principal of Radical Investments is Mark Maloney. She said though in the past she had questioned how the previous administration had been negotiating contracts with Maloney, she did indicate at that time that she admired his ambition, and that at some point, “we would expect that we would have to deal with him”.
“And that you believe that by calling his name you can taint this Government and taint the process of vaccination and distribution in our country … The Government of Barbados cannot black ball Barbadian companies of any type, colour or stripe, and we will deal with them,” she said.
The Prime Minister said she has asked the Director of Finance to prepare a full statement on the Vaccine Fund, established by Government earlier this year, which has collected $11,339,866.33, of which $7. 8 million was transferred to the Consolidated Fund on March 26, 2021. (AH)