Minister of Finance says ‘My phone was tapped!’
That official, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler, also blamed the Barbados Labour Party’s “whipping up people into a frenzy and trying to incite potential violence in this community” for scaring away “a lot of investors” in the aftermath of the February 21 general election.
Sinckler’s assertions were made late last night as he wrapped up debate on his Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in the House of Assembly.
The St. Michael North West MP suggested his phone had been tapped and emails accessed via “print outs”.
“All of the print outs of my emails, all the recordings, I was talking to somebody during the Labour Party thing and the phone clicked and they said ‘what is that?’ and I said ‘don’t worry they are changing the tape’, so it don’t bother me,” Sinckler told the Lower House.
“I don’t steal, I don’t rob anyone, I don’t do anything illegal or underhanded, so they could listen as they like, it don’t bother me; so wunna could do what ever wunna like but the truth is going to come out in this country, oh yes it’s going to come out.”
The minister said while the BLP was trying to “prosecute” him for the delayed start of a number large projects, including Four Seasons and the Pierhead Marina, it was the Opposition that had frightened investors.
“You see all of that walking up and down the street and whipping up people into a frenzy and trying to incite potential violence in this community, all of that wild talk was designed to destabilise Barbados,” he claimed.
“It had nothing to do with me. As soon as that election was finished, those who didn’t get the Government they wanted (were) stirring up mischief in this economy, calling it Rubbing Shoulders. But I don’t mind because they could rub as much shoulders as they want, they could tap as much phones as they like.”
Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley denied her party’s Rubbing Shoulders exercise fitted the description Sinckler gave.
“The Honourable Member is misleading the House to suggest that any member of the (Barbados) Labour Party in any programme called Rubbing Shoulders was inciting any violence. We rub shoulders, we don’t grease palms,” she said.
Sinckler said he was wrongly blamed for projects not starting on dates given by him, telling the House that he was acting on information given to him by the various developers and their representatives.
“I ain’t running Four Seasons. I could only take the best advice I am given by the people who are responsible for it. So if the Honourable Member for St. Michael North East tells me, and I take the Honourable Member at her word, that it will start in six months, I will say it will start in six months because I have no reason to doubt that it is true,” he stated.
“If I say that the Pierhead project will start in two months and I read the ministerial statement that is the developers said, that is what their lawyers said, that is what their bankers said, that is what they told to us. I had no reason to doubt the veracity of their statements.
“I am not running the project, I try to facilitate as much as I can the project. You give them all the concessions they want, they give them this, you give the that and you hope that it starts…, you hope for the best, what more can you do?”
The minister added, however, that he would no longer be taking such matters for granted.
“I am making sure that I get behind all of them, private and public and that is why we said that we are going to establish a committee that is going to report to the Honourable Member for St. Philip West with the infrastructural committee on the implementation of these projects, and the Prime Minister is going to chair a projects review committee to ensure that these projects get going,” Sinckler said.
“We are not taking this chance anymore with public, private or any other type… We have to ensure that these projects get off the ground. We are going to find the talent, we are going to hire that talent and we are going to ensure that those projects get off the ground because that is what will pull Barbados out of the hole that it is in.” (SC)