Daily Archives: June 19, 2007

Barbados Attorney General Tells Some New And Old Whoppers About VECO Jail Project

Dale Marshall Spins The Excuses He Thinks He Needs… The Prison Was First Priced In Indian Ruppees, Or Maybe Bugarian Levas… Or Mia Mottley Was Just Playing Around

It may be an ongoing national tragedy, but you have to love the comedy surrounding the new prison as the Government of Barbados does everything it can to divert attention from the issue of corruption without actually being transparent or accountable.

IF the government really intended to be transparent about the whole mess, they and / or VECO would start the process by first answering the question…

In the last ten years, how much money or any other benefits has VECO or it’s subsidiaries or it’s agents given to members of the BLP government or their families or associates in any way, shape or form?

And while you’re at it Dale, how about this one too…

Are any of the subcontractors or consultants employed on the prison project at any stage (acquisition, design, suppliers or construction – anything) associated in any way with members of the government, their families or friends?

Marshall Talks About Only Certain Pieces Of The VECO Contract – But Don’t Ask To See It!

Todays Nation Newspaper proudly quotes Barbados Attorney General Dale Marshall as saying that VECO is responsible for covering all cost-over-runs. Marshall said…

“If this project went over budget by a $1 or by $1 million or $100 million, under the contract it was Veco’s responsibility to cover all cost over-runs,”

The article contains further humour…

“Marshall said if the project came within budget, of the cost savings that normally went to the company, 50 per cent must be returned to Government.

He said Veco’s fiscal activities would also come under close scrutiny as all accounting records of the building contractor must be made available for audit if requested by Government…” (link here)

Cost savings on a project being run by the Government of Barbados? Please… pick me up off the floor if I start to hyper-ventilate with laughter!

Oh ya, we get it… the same government that refuses to audit or be accountable for GEMS Hotels or Cricket World Cup expenditures is assuring us about the prison: “Doan you worry nothin!

What Is The Deal With The Prison?

In today’s Nation News, AG Dale Marshall indicates that “the cost of the prison was around US$140 million (BDS$280 million) and not $100 million [the currency was never identified], as he had initialled a document last June (2006) for that amount.”

Way back on June 29, 2005, Mia Mottley announced that VECO had been awarded the prison contract and the price would be “$100 million” … ‘Mottley said Government would have to await the completion of the designs to quantify the finance of the prison, but she estimated it would cost around $100 million’.

This is the same trick they pull all the time – award the contract with blanks all over and “we’ll settle the price later when we’ve factored in all the bribes.”

Would you purchase a new car or house without knowing the price in advance? Our government does it all the time. Witness the recent Kensington Oval debacle where we are supposed to believe that our government “invested” a hundred million dollars to build a stadium on land owned by someone else – without a written contract! Please, Mr. Marshall… spare us the insult of assuming that we buy into these absurdities.

Why Would VECO Invest Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars To Build On Land They Don’t Own?

Bill Allen, the former CEO at VECO, was a big crook who bribed politicians to get his way – but nobody could accuse him of being a fool. Do we really think that VECO would finance the prison with it’s own money, build it on land that it doesn’t own and hope that it gets paid for the next 25 years?

Somebody is guaranteeing the whole deal, and that somebody is the taxpayers of Barbados. See how easy it is for the Barbados government? They spend like hell but it never appears on the books. Prisons, flyovers, roads, ports… anything they want they rent – trading our children’s futures for instant gratification and secretly topping up those all-so-important personal Swiss bank accounts.

The Attorney General’s walk-through of the new prison was as much spin-sham as his declaration that he took a morning and looked into the whole VECO scandal – but none of it touched Barbados.

Hey… Mr. Marshall… Dale, old friend… Do you or your family members have any bank accounts or assets outside of Barbados? Has VECO ever given you or your family members anything at all? Any trips? Any stock tips? Anything at all?

What’s that you say? “You’re not allowed to ask that. None of your business so I’m going to ignore the question.”

That’s what we thought you said, Dale.

Found On The Web…

Barbados Prison Update (From VECO’s website May 2007)

Commonwealth (a VECO company) is pleased to provide an update on the Prison Project in Barbados. The construction of the Prison complex is now in excess of 80% complete and on schedule for completion later this year. The site has enjoyed an excellent safety record with no Loss Time Incidences after more than 500 days of work involving crews up to 500 workers. We are currently projecting the project will be completed on budget.

Commonwealth has a contract to design, construct and own the prison for a period of 25 years after which ownership will transfer to the Government. Under the terms of the contract, Commonwealth will have no involvement in the operation of the Prison. The Government of Barbados will continue to have sole responsibility for the Prison operation, including staffing.

… from VECO’s website (link here)

Daily Nation – 29th June 2005

‘Mottley said Government would have to await the completion of the designs to quantify the finance of the prison, but she estimated it would cost around $100 million’.

‘Meanwhile, sources revealed that the second bid was submitted by a consortium made up of Jada Builders, Rotherley Construction, Rayside Construction, C.O. Williams Construction, Williams Industries, First Caribbean Bank, Barbados National Bank and mega-billion dollar British construction firm Carrilian, which builds and operate prisons in the United Kingdom. That proposal carried a price tag of approximately $120 million in a 25 year BOLT – build, operate, lease and transfer – arrangement’.

From The Nation News June 29, 2005 – US Firm To Build New Jail At Dodds

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Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption

Bajan Observer Asks Some Questions Of DLP’s David Thompson

We received the following letter from “The Bajan Observer” and publish it unedited, save for a few spelling and style changes.

We’ll save our comments and let our readers discuss the issues…

David Thompson and his DLP have started the electoral campaign.

I was listening Mr. David last night criticizing the actual government, but something was missing. Who doesn’t know about the bad things that this government did and is doing? Criticizing is the easiest thing to do for an opposition leader…but what about the program Mr. Thompson? I did not hear anything about a political program with goals that DLP will achieve IF elected in the next general consultation.

Say that you are better than the other one is not enough Mr. David!

The only thing I read is about the integrity law that, he said, will be in place with his government if elected. Yes…but do not exist on the integrity issue only….what about the reforms that this Country desperately needs??

What about:

-Justice reform, new traffic laws, how to get a faster justice system in place?
-Economy and how to increase the tourism on this island and fight poverty
-How to stop, improve and solve the disaster in act at the QEH??
-School decline and plans to improve the level of teaching and school life
-How to improve the immigration laws
-About the price gouging happening in the supermarkets, how to control and prevent
-How to improve the bajan productivity
-How, in concrete, to improve life of bajan people.

I challenge Mr. Thompson to put in WRITING, black on white, all the answers to these issues.

Have the courage, Mr. Thompson, to say to the people of this Country “My promises are not just words. They are here written on a piece of paper with the committment that if I’ll fail to do how it is written here I’ll step back!”

Come on David, it is time to show your courage.

If you refuse to do so I’ll hope that BLP will do it.

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Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption

Reporters Without Borders “Surprised” At Antigua’s Expulsion Of Journalists

Maybe This Will Focus Some Much-Needed Attention On Caribbean Governments’ Media Abuses

TORONTO, Canada, June 18, 2007 – International media rights group, Reporters Without Borders, has expressed surprise over the expulsion of CARICOM journalists, Vernon Khelawan and Lennox Linton from Antigua & Barbuda.

Khelawan, the former editor of the daily Antigua Sun was expelled on June 12th while Lennox Linton of the privately owned Observer Radio was deported on June 13th.

Both men are citizens of countries of the Caribbean Community and Common Market with agreements allowing free movement for citizens of its 15 member states and the worldwide press freedom organization said it found it hard to believe it was a straightforward administrative decision.

… continue reading this article at Caribbean360.com

Our Take – Many Caribbean Citizens Were Not “Surprised” By The Anti-Media Actions Of A Small Island Government

Folks in larger countries do not realise the power that small island governments have over their citizens and their local media. If a reporter or a citizen says the wrong thing or asks the wrong questions in Barbados, Antigua, St. Lucia or a host of other Caribbean islands, they probably won’t have their leg broken when they answer the door in the middle of the night…

But their wife or brother will be fired from their job for no apparent reason. Or that building permit that their sister wanted won’t come through. Or their good friend’s computer servicing company will suddenly find their government supplier designation “under review”.

That kind of politically-motivated thuggery is in a way more insidious than physical threats because while it is every bit as corrupting of the media and democracy, it operates invisibly. A broken nose is easy to prove – a wife being fired for something her husband wrote in a newspaper is a far more subtle approach to controlling the media.

We are happy to see Reporters Without Borders turning their eyes to the small island nations of the Caribbean. Perhaps they will even stumble across the story of the open government threats made to Barbados journalist David Ellis.

Caribbean360.Com Added To Sidebar Links

We haven’t been paying nearly enough attention to keeping our sidebar links up to date and for that we apologise.

Today we add the news site Caribbean360.com – which should have been added so long ago. The folks at Caribbean360.com have a talent for finding and presenting Caribbean news stories that are of interest to all. The site is an excellent starting point for your morning read about what is happening in the region.

Give them a visit and you won’t be disappointed…

Caribbean360.com

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Filed under Barbados, Freedom Of The Press, News Media, Politics & Corruption