Government’s motto: “Delay, delay – never pay.”
We read in today’s Nation that “Minister of Housing and Lands Michael Lashley says his ministry is working feverishly to have contractor Al Barrack paid the more than $70 million owed to him.”
If memory serves, the truth is that Barbados once owed Al Barrack ‘only’ about $34 million dollars for the Warrens office building debacle. The Owen Arthur BLP government refused to pay, went to arbitration and lost large – ending up owing about $50 million dollars after a 2006 judgment.
“For the next two years the BLP government refused to pay, deciding instead to beat Al Barrack through the simple Bajan tactic of lawyering him to death and waiting for him to die.”
The BLP government’s story was that the country couldn’t afford to pay the lump sum and Mr. Barrack was unreasonable for refusing to take a ‘very fair offer’. Mr. Barrack described the ‘very fair offer’ as a dollar now and a dollar a day for the rest of his life. For the record, Mr. Barrack’s version is probably closer to the truth than the government’s.
The clock kept ticking and the interest compounded frightfully as interest does when it’s not being paid. Ask any Bajan fool who has missed a credit card payment – it’s not a pretty sight.
Enter the DLP
The Thompson DLP government inherited the mess when they won the election in 2008, but they too decided that the answer was to keep Al Barrack at bay with years of false negotiations punctuated with court battles to keep him from selling the assets of the National Housing Corporation. Minister Lashley says the government tried to ‘give’ the Warren’s office complex to settle with Barrack, but the truth is the government fought for years to prevent that happening and then changed its mind when the economy tanked and took the building’s value with it.
What’s changed now? Why is the government suddenly appearing so contrite and anxious to keep Al Barrack hopeful? I’m not sure if this is another delaying tactic, or the government has heard the rumours that Barrack is about to go ‘nuclear’ on the international legal scene and that he has found the financial backers to do it.
The times, they are a’changin
As we recently saw with a legal conflict involving the Grenada Airports Authority (GAA), ‘globalism’ is a many-edged sword that sometimes allows people to seek justice internationally when they cannot find justice in their own countries. In Grenada’s case, a Taiwan bank obtained a US Court order that allowed them to seize all the fees normally paid to the the Grenada Airports Authority by airlines flying to Grenada from the USA.
BFP said in a previous post…
“Can you imagine what would happen if some court in New York or London ordered airlines to pay all Grantley Adams airport fees to the court over the Al Barrack debt? How about port fees for cruise ships too?
Wuhloss! That would put the mongoose in with the chickens! If that happened you can bet the government would settle with Al Barrack right away – and that just shows how bankrupt our government is: both financially and morally.”
Maybe our master Bajan economist Owen $ Arthur can chip in some money from one of his offshore bank accounts. After all, it’s only fair that he assist to pay off a financial mess that he and his government initially created.