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What was Payne’s part?


There should be an enquiry into the awarding of the contract for Government’s office complex at Warrens to builder Al Barrack.

Minister of Housing and Lands, Michael Lashley, made the suggestion for the investigation last night in the House of Assembly as he wrapped up debate on legislation facilitating the transfer of National Housing Units to long-standing tenants.

Saying he wanted clarity on the circumstances of the project and what role former Minister of Housing, George Payne, played, Lashley said this was necessary, given the project was now “wrapped” around the necks of the NHC and present and future generations of Barbadians.

He said Government now had to “look for over $50 million” to pay Barrack and this was something that could have been avoided if the former Barbados Labour Party administration did not amend the Housing Act to facilitate the NHC’s construction of office buildings.

He told the Lower House that Payne, St. Andrew MP, was responsible for housing at the time of the amendment.

“He (Payne) needs to tell this country his role and the circumstances surrounding the contract of the Barrack fiasco,” Lashley said.

“You imagine the National Housing Corporation, rather than building houses, he (Payne) came in here (Parliament) to build offices, other than housing development. What madness that came upon this House of Assembly with this amendment.

“If it is one thing that I would like to see before the member for St. Andrew leaves this House of Assembly or leaves politics is that we must have an enquiry on the circumstances surrounding the Al Barrack contract. That is my position on it because it is wrapped around the necks of taxpayers now.

“It is wrapped around the neck of the National Housing Corporation, it is wrapped around the necks of future generations of Barbadians and the National Housing Corporation, instead of focussing on constructing houses it now has to focus on paying back monies for an office building, imagine that.

“Therein lies the philosophical divide between the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party,” he said.

The St. Philip North representative suggested the attempt to change “the philosophical mandate of the NHC” from facilitating housing and acquiring land “for the poor people” had harmed it financially.

“And what has happened? Where are we now with this amendment? We are locked in a battle where we have to look for over $50 million as a result of this amendment,” he stated. (SC)

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