Inniss wants Cahill info made public
For the first time since Opposition Leader Mia Mottley demanded that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart releases to the public, details of the agreement with Cahill Energy to construct a plasma gasification plant here, a member of Stuart’s cabinet has openly sided with the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader.
Speaking at the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) luncheon at the Hilton Barbados resort yesterday Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss suggested he was not deaf to the concerns being raised about the controversial $700 million project.
Without referencing Mottley’s repeated demands for transparency, Inniss said he saw no reason why the information could not be shared with the public.
“I am mindful as a politician that you hear these things about the wheeling and dealing going on and whose friends get these contracts. My simple solution to address all of that is to put all of that in the public domain [and] let the public see whatever documents you have,” he said to applause.
Responding to the 2015/2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals presented by Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler last month, Mottley charged that the country was now exposed to “tens or hundreds of millions in dollars in liability” as a result of the 30-year exclusive contract, signed by four Government ministers, for which she said the company was not being held to any real environmental standards.
She also claimed that under the agreement, signed on March 15 last year between the Minister of Finance, the Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe, the Minister of Energy Senator Darcy Boyce and the Minister of Housing Denis Kellman and the CEO of Cahill Energy Clare Cowan, the Canadian firm was exempted from paying a slew of taxes, including corporation tax, Value Added Tax, transfer tax, withholding tax, import duties on waste, tyres and other supply items, as well as export duties.
Inniss did not address those charges in his contribution to the discussion on Sustainable Waste Management in Barbados, but he emphasized the need for Government to come clean on the matter.
“They are no state secrets. They are not matters that necessarily comprise the national security of the country, and therefore I don’t see why the public can’t have access to [this] information,” he said.
Earlier, American professor Paul Connett described the project as “very risky” and “an utter insult” to Barbadians, and warned that it was not worth the risk.
“You look at this project it is very, very risky. . . . No risk is acceptable if it is avoidable [and] this project is avoidable,” Connett said via Skype.
“It is an utter insult to taxpayers and an utter insult to the citizens who are going to live near this facility and breathe in the toxic metals and God knows what else that comes out of the facility, especially when it is not working properly,” he stressed, adding that Barbados should instead focus on recycling, composting and creating energy from renewable energy sources.
Several business leaders also questioned the project and called for clear Government policies on renewable energy and waste management. (MM)