Jamaica’s $69 Lightbulbs: The Lesson For Barbados

Jamaican Lightbulb Scandal Shows How Government Corruption Works

In 2006 Cuba gave four million free lightbulbs to Jamaica.

A few weeks ago, Clive Mullings, the current Minister of Energy, Mining and Telecommunications, told the nation that the previous PNP government had spent $276.5 million dollars to “distribute” the lightbulbs.

That is $69 per “free” light bulb for “distribution” costs!!!

Further, investigations by the newly elected Jamaican government show that a private company that had been formed to assist in distributing the lightbulbs had been paid $49.7 million tax dollars for the “transportation stipend and accommodation” of the assisting Cubans.

But that $49.7 million shouldn’t have been paid because the Cuban government already paid those transportation and accommodation costs!

Who owns Universal Management and Development Company Ltd. that was paid $49.7 million dollars when it shouldn’t have received one dollar? Perhaps the former Jamaican Minister of State will tell…

corrupt-kern-spencer.jpg

Caught Like The Thieves They Are!

Kern Spencer, the former Minister of State in the Ministry of Investment, Technology, Energy and Commerce (MITEC), who had direct responsibility for the project, wept as the extent of the fraud became known.

The Jamaican media is piling on this outrageous example of fraud by elected government officials – and common sense tells us that this is only the first revelation of the corrupt activities of the previous PNP government.

Lesson For Barbados: Private Companies Are Used To Facilitate Government Corruption

Citizens of Barbados should pay close attention to this latest Jamaican government scandal because the techniques used to steal tax dollars are regularly practiced by our own corrupt Barbados government officials.

Barbados Government contracts are regularly issued without an open bidding process to private companies owned by friends and relatives of government officials. This can be a simple as the government paying a certain supplier three times the normal price for shipment of copier paper (hey, nice Christmas bonus for a relative!) to the sophisticated scams practiced by VECO Corporation – the builders of our new way-over-budget jail.

Recent trials in Alaska revealed that VECO corruptly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in “consulting fees” to the relatives of US politicians who awarded government contracts to the company.

You would have to be totally stupid to think that VECO never gave any consulting fees out in relation Barbados projects like the new jail or the oil terminal.

Our Prediction If DLP Wins The Coming Election

Should the DLP win the coming election it won’t be long before the details of corruption start pouring forth. Citizens will be horrified to know the extent of the thiefing that has gone on in the last five years of Arthur government.

But that will take a few months, and during those first few months many defeated BLP government members will quietly move off Barbados. The majority of their assets are already long gone into foreign bank accounts. Most of the corruption money never even saw Barbados but was paid directly into offshore accounts by corrupt companies like Veco.

Which is why some members of the current government are worried sick about what is yet to come in the ongoing VECO corruption trials in the USA.

Sweet dreams, Ministers!

Reference

Jamaica Gleaner: Kern wept – Former State Minister jolted by Cuban bulb saga

35 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

35 responses to “Jamaica’s $69 Lightbulbs: The Lesson For Barbados

  1. reality check

    Jamaica, I believe, is where Owen worked to hone his skills in economic magic before descending on Barbados to practice voodoo economics ( unlimited debt ).

    Hurry up and complete Glendairy but will David Thompson have the guts to throw the whole lot in jail where they belong or will the old boys network come to the rescue?

    These are Davids friends.

    Like the Chief Justice he is the wrong person for the job of opposition leader ( another one of his pals )

    He will not be able to mete out justice, chop heads and send friends to jail.

    He will be able to find the trail of the money should he wish to pursue it but they will have too much on him.

    He will be faced with an empty pantry and some very tough decisions.

    Barbadians should not blame the DLP when the additional pain inevitably comes.

    Any person or group in power for more than eight years is a disaster waiting to happen.

  2. delighted......

    Anonymous,

    Your eloquence and wit delight us all! Such use of grey matter…………your mother must be proud!

  3. iisnoone

    Something does not make sense here. Cuba is a desperately poor country. Why would they be giving away millions of dollars worth of light bulbs?

    Maybe, just maybe, these light bulbs were a gift made via the Cuban government. Is there a wealthy communist super power which is investing heavily in this area to promote its influence?

    This is just speculative opinion, but I would guess that these light bulbs were manufactured in China, and that China is the actual donor. If a man in rags tries to give you $500, would you not suspect that someone else had fronted the money and that there was an ulterior motive?

    Now here comes the unpleasant part. There is “no free lunch”. What “quid pro quo” did the Jamaican government promise?

    One learned blogger made the comment that this was a Jamaican scandal, and had nothing to do with Barbados. Donations by the Cubans and Chinese to Barbados suggest otherwise. OK, we got the gifts. What do the Cubans and the Chinese want from us in return?

  4. Tony

    Issnoone where did you get your information from that Cuba is a desperately poor country? Do some research. You are obviously getting your information from Western propaganda. Cuba has been out there assisting many countries over a long period but it is not reported. When the American media entities show Cuba they often highlight the poor areas. Well for your information every country especially the USA has desperately poor areas. Think on these things!!!

  5. Adrian Hinds

    We can debate the economic state of Cuba anytime, the focus for me in this tread is the corruption and how it was uncovered. If not for anything else but to do the same in Barbados, the current GoB needs to go. All the talk about who will be finance minister, and what a great leader Owen Arthur is, is pure nonsense. Let us uncover these set of thieves now.

  6. Frankology

    This is what you call a real life comedy. Nutten like dat can happen hey. How on earth a Government can receive 4 million bulbs Free OF COST and then pay a hefty $276.5 million to distribute them. This is not fraud, this is the utter slackness by the powers that be. These could have pass over to the Utility company and given to every customer that they light bill, it could have been given to community leaders to formulate groups to dispatch them to homes. This is what you call tiefing at a price.

  7. POINT TO NOTE

    PRINTED IN THE GLEANER
    Probe launched into missing millions at Finance Ministry
    published: Thursday | November 8, 2007

    THE MAJOR Investigations Task Force has commenced a probe into the theft of millions of dollars from the Ministry of Finance.

    Assistant Commissioner of Police Les Green last night said the probe began a few weeks ago, but was reluctant to state the stage of the investigation.

    Minister of Finance Audley Shaw told The Gleaner that the money amounted to $17 million. He said that it went missing between August and October this year.

    “I have given instructions that the balance of the money be transferred to the Bank of Jamaica for safekeeping,” Mr. Shaw told The Gleaner yesterday.

    The money was in the care of the Financial Investigation Division (FID), which is headed by Christine Chambers.

    Confirmed by Davies

    Former finance minister Omar Davies confirmed that he has heard about the funds going missing.

    Dr. Davies, however, noted that “The minister does not have anything to do with the safekeeping of money. It is part of the FID’s responsibility. They were retaining the cash as evidence.”

    Money which is the subject of criminal investigations is held by the FID as evidence until a determination is made by the court.

  8. Adrian Hinds

    Frankology
    November 8th, 2007 at 2:32 pm
    This is what you call a real life comedy. Nutten like dat can happen hey.
    ————————————————————
    Do you really believe this?

    How on earth a Government can receive 4 million bulbs Free OF COST and then pay a hefty $276.5 million to distribute them.
    —————————————————————-
    Don’t continue to ask the question. It is a fact that it did occur. Truly start to look for how it may have occurred.

    1: If the people where not aware of the gift by the Cuban government how would anyone have known? If the government had not changed how would they have known?
    2:Does the same laws such as the secrecy act in Barbados applies to Jamaica? Is the same environment of secrecy, and unaccountability to parliament and the people that is the case in Barbados not applicable to Jamaica?

    Whether it is 276 million Dollars In Jamaica or 750k in Owen’s personal account how can you ask this question as if you really believe corruption didn’t happened here? 😀 surely you jest. 😀

  9. Jerome Hinds

    Frankology…..don’t you see SHADES of hardwood Inc. in this story ?

    What about the Dodds prison ?

    What about the TRIPLING of the ABC highway costs ?

    Lest we forget, GREENLAND dump ?

    Who are the real beneficiaries of these ESCALATING costs in these Barbadian projects ?

    Who is willing to shed TEARS like…..the Jamaican Junior Minister ( Keep Expressing Remorse Now…… a.k.a KERN )

    http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20071107/lead/lead1.html

  10. Frankology

    Bro Hinds, do you know how an election is won? It is won by an opposition that has a competent leader at its helm during the lead up to an election, and the leader must inform the electorate that he/she will be the leader when election is won. In a Barbadian context, all of our Prime Ministers deal with financial and economic matters before and after the election. I am saying this to get at the crux of my post. I am not saying the David Thompson is not an excellent leader, I am looking based on recent developments, that he is allowing Mr. Estwick to speak on these matters and knowing Barbadians, they might be feeling that Mr. Estwick will automatically become Minister of Finance. That’s what I am speaking about.

    We can look further within the last Caribbean election. Mr. Patterson relinquished the Prime Ministership to Ms. Portia Simpson who did not take up the post of Finance or Economic porfolio. When the time came for elections, she was not as persuasive in this genre like Mr. Goulding, thus the outcome was in his favour. So Bro Hinds, I would like Mr. Thompson to deal with these matters.

    You definitely has a DLP preference, others might have BLP preference. I certainly has a Neutral preference. I want a Barbadian leader that can represent us in this hostile International arena, a leader with arrogance, but must be humane and persuasive.

    So please, if we have tiefing goin’ on wid dis guvment, feel free expose them so we will have benchmarks for future politicians.

  11. Jerome Hinds

    So please, if we have tiefing goin’ on wid dis guvment, feel free expose them so we will have benchmarks for future politicians.
    *******************************************
    Frankology…..timing is everything !

    Do you realise……that Owen has declared he is too busy to investigate the HINT of corruption ?

    On national TV David Thompson challenged Owen about a $ 750,000.00 cheque deposit…….
    ” intended ” for the BLP party a/c but ended up in Owen’s Personal a/c !

    Owen’s Reaction : Sweated , Stammered and refused to DEBATE in the House Assembly since that incident !

    What should be Thompson’s Action…..? : Must David Thompson hold Owen’s hand and bring him to Parliament……or open Owen’s mouth and make him declare the source of that cheque ?

    But a time is coming very soon…..when time will have ran out for Owen….!

    He better get BUSY now !

  12. Frankology

    Who are the real beneficiaries of these ESCALATING costs in these Barbadian projects ?
    —————————————————–
    We are both in the same choir. You singing tenor and I singing bass. See the difference. You are committed and I am un-committed. Anyway you and I can jump to the cows come home, we still need the loyal opposition to be within the choir in order to get to the bottom of these outrageous projects.

  13. Hants

    The price of oil is rising.

    The US and Barbados dollar is dropping.
    Cost of goods are rising.

    The Barbados economy is in serious trouble unless something changes on the World stage.

    The DLP will win the next election.

    I remain a supporter of the DLP with an unshakeably love for the people and land of my birth.

  14. reality check

    “I remain a supporter of the DLP with an unshakeably love for the people and land of my birth.”

    The majority of bloggers on this site can ascribe to the latter and not necessarily the former.

    Respect is earned and an opposition leader must stand up and be heard not at just some constituency meetings.

    BFP lets here about all the candidates and who might be worthy of being voted for, whichever party.

    The main questions will relate to strict accountability and transparency laws and their experience to lead.

    Love for the people and land of birth alone will not cut it. More talk, no substance.

  15. Hants

    Minister Lynch says….”We just performed the biggest coup in International Transport by getting some slots, by getting Virgin Atlantic to fly to Barbados out of Heathrow, he added.

    It is a major accomplishment for which many people have not been aware.”

    Isn’t Jamaica one of our CSME partners ?
    Should we be gloating when the Jamaican Government is trying to get back these slots for Air Jamaica.

  16. John

    Frankology
    November 8th, 2007 at 3:41 pm
    Bro Hinds, do you know how an election is won? It is won by an opposition that has a competent leader at its helm during the lead up to an election, and the leader must inform the electorate that he/she will be the leader when election is won.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    … so if the DLP wins the election under David Thompson, it must follow that David Thompson is a competent leader!!!

    Careful this statement does not come back to bite you because if we look at what the other commentators are saying, the DLP will win the next elections!!

    Therefore, people do consider him to be a competent leader, and since the DLP has a competent leader, it will win the next elections!!

    …. provided of course that the commentators are representative of the electorate.

    Personally, I believe an election is lost and Owen has done enough to lose the next one.

    I’ll be voting Dee, until the government changes, and then I will vote Bee, until the Dee’s change.

    The only problem I have is if the Pee runs in my constituency …… but that is easy to overcome as it just requires the toss of a coin!!

  17. Hants

    “Love for the people and land of birth alone will not cut it. More talk, no substance.”
    Reality check let me spell it out for you.

    Barbados is a country where a high percentage of people are intelligent enough and well enough educated to be politicians.

    This bs that the DLP candidates are weak and Thompson is weak is absolute nonsense.

    Also do not respond to me as if I am an owner of BFP or a member of the DLP. I am not so I can talk whether it has substance or not.

    The bloggers will decide and occaisonally RoyalRumble will come in and curse me but that is “Bajan”.

    I just do not glorify BLP politicians to the exclusion of others and firmly believe that there are enough competent Barbadians in the DLP to Govern Barbados.

  18. Frankology

    I do not have any problem with Hants or any person having an undying love for the DLP, what I am looking for is TRUTH to prevail. Just don’t hide your head in the sand and leave your posterior exposed. I will continue to be critical of the BLP, the DLP when programmes are against the people.

  19. reality check

    This is good Hants—glad you have the faith

    now, as in a truly democratic country why don’t you list all the DLP candidates and indicate why we the voters should give them our vote. This would be a great opportunity to introduce these party representatives to the electorate.

    In most jursidictions candidates must clearly set out their beliefs and platform well before, and sometimes years before, an election call.

    Please come out of the darkness into the air where everyone can see specifics and not more declarations of blind faith.

  20. Frankology

    Marcus. Why is post awaiting moderation?

    ************

    BFP comments…

    Read the tab at the top about moderation please.

  21. Hants

    Reality check …please call 246 429 3104 for any information regarding the DLP and its candidates or log on to http://www.dlpbarbados.org

  22. Hants

    Frankology says……”I do not have any problem with Hants or any person having an undying love for the DLP”

    This is not about an undying love but a principle.

    The day the DLP does things that I am opposed to and if these things are serious enough I will join the party and try to effect a change in their policy.

    Some of you seem to support Harold Hoytes “Thug as a Leader theory” and others seem to be looking for a reincarnation of the Greatest leader Barbados and the DLP ever had.

    I strongly suggest that some of you have not been reading The Nation,Advocate,DLP website and the DLP blog because there is more than enough about DLP policy.

    I read it all and so can you.

  23. Jerome Hinds

    Owen better be prepared to get a baby CRADLE for ASSCOLL…..after the No – Confidence vote !

    http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/html/20071108T000000-0500_129140_OBS_EDITORIAL_CARTOON.asp

    A believe ASSCOLL will shed TEARS like…..the Jamaican Junior Minister ( Keep Expressing Remorse Now…… a.k.a KERN )

    http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20071107/lead/lead1.html

  24. Frankology

    A party policy comes from within and it should be mandatory for all members. I have always been an avid reader long before joining the fourth estate at 17 years old. I have been an attentive listener of political speeches by powerful politicians at political meetings prior to our Independence in 1966. I am not an electioneering political pundit, but listen and read every aspect of politics locally, regionally and internationally.
    Harold Hoyte’s statement is a true reflection of a successful leader, it is how you interpreted the language.

  25. Littleboy

    Guys
    You are straying!!! The facts are that a lot of sculduggery has been going on here under this present regime.
    Can you remember when Owen presided over “operation Gas- Works” and allowed one of his cronies to import water pipe for the National Petroleum Corp. Then briefly turned the Energy Ministry over to Rawle Eastmond. That scandal was pushed under the rug.
    But “ill-gotten gains don’t last long”.The crony in question is now facing financial hardship. One business outlet in Speightstown has been closed, and the bank is about to foreclose on the other in Pinfold Street.
    …more to come!!!

  26. Jerome Hinds

    Littleboy…..do you speak of the Mark Clarke fiasco at NPC…..?

  27. Littleboy

    Jerome
    Plastic Plumbing Services, headed by Owen Arthur’s election agent.

  28. Jerome Hinds

    The light bulb saga continues !

    http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/html/20071109T000000-0500_129171_OBS_EDITORIAL_CARTOON.asp

    Owen better be prepared to get a baby CRADLE for ASSCOLL…..after the No – Confidence vote !

    http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/html/20071108T000000-0500_129140_OBS_EDITORIAL_CARTOON.asp

    Ah believe ASSCOLL will shed TEARS like…..the Jamaican Junior Minister ( Keep Expressing Remorse Now…… a.k.a KERN )

    http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20071107/lead/lead1.html

  29. the real culprit is still out there prancing around, the person crying is just a scape goat

  30. Wishing in Vain

    No retrial or acquittal for Kott

    Published: November 9, 2007
    Last Modified: November 9, 2007 at 02:12 AM

    ANCHORAGE — A federal judge on Thursday denied a request for a retrial in the corruption case against former state Rep. Pete Kott.

    Kott’s attorney, Jim Wendt, had asked U.S. District Judge John Sedwick to reconsider the former lawmaker’s Sept. 25 conviction. Kott was convicted on charges of conspiracy to solicit financial benefits, extortion and bribery.

    Wendt asked for either an acquittal or a retrial. Both requests were rejected.

    At the center of Wendt’s argument was what he called a paradox on the conspiracy charge. He said Kott was convicted of conspiring to extort money from the very people that he was conspiring with: former Veco Corp. executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith.

    Kott is scheduled for a Dec. 7 sentencing.

    — The Associated Press

    3Friday, November 9, 2007 – 3:32pm |

    VECO Barbados Prison contract!!

    Nice guy he is, funny thing how the ones that paid him and he do not get to spend some time in the prison he wanted to be warden of in Barbados.Pity that the FBI have not investigated the awarding of the VECO Barbados Prison contract!! as most people are concerned that the prison had a lot of STEAL in it as well.

    2Friday, November 9, 2007 – 2:28pm | adventure

    Pete Got Kott

    Sorry Pete – Gotta Go to the felony ranch! Couldn’t have happened to a more worthy guy. Hopefully, if we all are lucky you’ll get to see Ted and Don there too!

    1Friday, November 9, 2007 – 2:27pm | adventure

    Pete Got Kott

    Sorry Pete, be a man and admitt you realy were a low down sleezeball. Money hugging dirtbag. Worthless thief who robbed every alaskan citizen!

  31. Wishing in Vain

    I wonder how far this probe goes????

    Sen. Stevens Told to Keep Records for Probe

    By Paul Kane
    washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
    Thursday, June 7, 2007; Page A01

    Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, disclosed in an interview that the FBI asked him to preserve records as part of a widening investigation into Alaskan political corruption that has touched his son and ensnared one of his closest political confidants and financial backers.

    Stevens, who is famous for bringing home federal earmarks for Alaska when he was Appropriations Committee chairman, was not previously known to be linked to the Justice Department’s probe, which has uncovered evidence that more than $400,000 worth of bribes were given to state lawmakers in exchange for favorable energy legislation.
    Subpoenas have been issued over work on Sen. Ted Stevens’s home. (Chris Miller – AP)

    Graphic
    An Alaska Firm’s Favorites
    A pair of executives for energy services company Veco Corp., in their bribery plea agreements, admitted to illegally laundering bonuses to themselves and other executives to pay for political donations to state and federal lawmakers in 2005 and 2006.
    Investigators have used secret recording equipment, seized documents and cooperating witnesses to secure the indictments of four current and former state lawmakers, including the former state House speaker, shaking the core of Alaska’s Republican Party.

    Two executives of a prominent energy company have pleaded guilty to bribery and extortion charges and are cooperating with the inquiry, which is being run by the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and includes two federal prosecutors and FBI agents based in Anchorage.

    “They put me on notice to preserve some records,” Stevens said in a brief interview about his legal team’s discussions with the FBI. He declined to say what kinds of records were involved but confirmed that he had hired lawyers and that his son, former state Senate president Ben Stevens, “is also under investigation.

  32. Damion

    Please stop! passing judgement on an issue that has been heavily politicised in Jamaica. The JLP is definately trying to from a propaganda that the PNP robbed the Jamaican tax payers 278 million dollar from the Cuban government.The fact of the matter is that the issue is being investigated so please people stop casting judgement before evidence as been provided an a verdict drawn. We should learn from the US invation of Iraq!

  33. Simmo

    I agree with Damion that whilst the matter is being investigated, we should not be casting judgement.

    It is just a part of the whole cycle of an incoming administration “digging” up the bones of the past administration, this is nothing new. However, if the allegations are found to be true, then it is a shame that such a promising young man like Kern Spencer should stoop to the lowest of lows to try and rob the Jamaican people.

    Politicians should know by now that there is no such thing as a SECRET. And only time will reveal all both here in Barbados and in Jamaica.

    But I say, it is our fault that we are robbed by the leaders of our respective countries, we are eager to judge but are passive in demanding accountability.

    How can we allow a leader to say to us “I AM TOO BUSY” to investigate a matter of utmost importance?? I am sure our leaders know how to delegate. And if such competence is lacking, then surely some changes need to be made.

  34. anonymous

    Save this page – Light bulb cronyism

    “Even if former State Minister Kern Spencer is not guilty of fraud, he has to explain his role in the awarding of contracts to one of the companies at the centre of the multi-million dollar Cuban light bulb controversy, where his child’s mother is a major player.

    Sherine Shakes, mother of Spencer’s child, is a manager at Universal Management and Development Company, one of the two companies which was paid over $85.6 million dollars for assisting in distributing two million florescent bulbs which were donated free of cost by the Cuban Government. ”

    source: Sunday Herald Jamaica (November 11,2007)
    http://www.sunheraldjamaica.com/coverstory2.htm

  35. Simon Hardeman and Spike Breakwell

    Thomas Edison
    Invented the lightbulb. Without it he couldn’t see how to work his phonograph.

    Incandescent
    Mrs Edison was very, very cross at the amount of time her husband was spending in the outhouse.

    Filament
    What Mr Edison’s marriage hung by.

    Electric current
    Early attempts to fit dried fruit with a plug failed to produce much illumination.

    Voltage
    You have to be over 18 to buy a bulb.

    more at http://www.thebeginners.net