Verla DePeiza has zeroed in on an “800 per cent mark-up” on the price of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine under the failed deal to buy the jabs involving a local businessman.
Despite Prime Minister’s Mottley rebuke of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) leader, DePeiza on Sunday doubled down on her call for full transparency on the agreement between the St Lucia-based Radical Investments Limited and Good Vibrations, a Miami, Florida entertainment firm.
“Simply shouting at me is not going to make the issue go away,” DePeiza told a DLP branch meeting, DePeiza pushed back on Mottley’s criticism that she was “going down the wrong road” in her questions about the vaccine purchase agreement between the administration and RIL, which is owned by cement and construction magnate Mark Maloney.
RIL filed a lawsuit in a US Federal Court alleging it was bilked out of $20 million (US$10 million) it paid Good Vibrations for vaccines that were never delivered.
The DLP leader said: “We know from the manufacturers directly, that the price of a dose is $3 US each, and we have seen all of the documents where an entertainment company was contracted with in order to bring vaccines [here] on behalf of the people of Barbados at $10 a dose, and then we hear from the Prime Minister yesterday in an attempt to explain, speaking about a $24 a dose cash on delivery transaction.
“Where is this 800 per cent mark up going, this is the explanation that the people of Barbados needs to have.”
DePeiza maintained that though both Mottley and Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw said publicly that no taxpayer money was used during the failed purchase of vaccines, the secretive nature of the agreement ran contrary to Mottley’s own statements about her administration pushing for accountability and transparency in all administrative deals. She said the deal needed to be explained in full to the public in order to reduce vaccine hesitancy.
“You simply cannot speak in any blasé terms to any transaction that starts of at $3 a dose, and ends up at $24 a dose, and then say the people of Barbados ought to be grateful because no money actually changed hands,” said the DLP president.
“What if the deal had gone through, would we ever have known what these provisions were? Do we even know what they are now?
“For certainty, we do not know who the principals for Radical are outside of one, and we definitely do not know who the shareholders are, who the other directors are. Who in other words, stood to benefit from this windfall… all of these are legitimate questions that the people of Barbados have the right to ask, and have the right to demand answers.” (SB)