‘BLP witchhunt’

Kellman responds to PAC summons

Three Cabinet ministers have been summoned to appear before the Opposition-led Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament to answer a number of questions related to the operations of the state-run National Housing Corporation (NHC).

Committee Chairman and Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader Mia Mottley has apparently written to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, former Housing & Lands Minister Michael Lashley and his successor Denis Kellman requesting that they appear in person before the parliamentary committee, in light of concerns raised by the country’s Auditor-General Leigh Trotman about financial spending by the NHC.

From left, Michael Lashley, Denis Kellman and Chris Sinckler.
From left, Michael Lashley, Denis Kellman and Chris Sinckler.

Of specific concern is the employment of 47 people over and above the approved staff complement for the statutory agency; the auditing of accounts and the laying of those accounts before Parliament and the awarding of contracts for the Exmouth, Coverley, Grotto, Bushy Park and Country Park Towers housing projects.

Recently the Opposition has been in the forefront of claims that at least three quarters of the units in the NHC’s Grotto, St Michael complex, which was intended to provide housing solutions for low-income Barbadians, will actually go to high-income earners.

In fact, speaking at a political meeting in St Michael Central back in April, Opposition Member of Parliament for St James Central Kerrie Symmonds had revealed that the BLP was in possession of documents, outlining Government’s plans to rent out 60 of the 80 apartments at the Grotto for $1,500 and upwards monthly to persons earning $5,000 plus.

More recently, Symmonds has also produced official documents to show that the Grotto high-rise housing complex, which was scheduled to be opened in September 2014 but remains unoccupied more than two years after completion, was incurring security costs of approximately $10,000 a month — charges that have not been successfully refuted by Government.

The Grotto project has been consistently in the news for well over a year now, so too the Valery, Brittons Hill, St Michael low income project which the Opposition Leader claims should have only cost the Government $200 per square foot, but winded up costing $548 per square foot or over $20 million each.

Mottley levelled those charges in Parliament back in June 2015. However, this drew an immediate response from Sinckler, who at the time had suggested that the Government’s controversial contractor Mark Maloney, as well as two other leading local businessmen – Bjorn Bjerkhamn and Sir Charles Williams – were among the beneficiaries of a 99-year lease issued by the former administration on the eve of the 2008 elections, which swept the BLP from office.

Preconco has since denied any involvement in that project with Maloney telling Barbados TODAY the charges that his company was paid exorbitant sums for the construction of low-income Government housing as “unfortunate”.

Today, neither Sinckler nor his attorney Michael Yearwood could be reached for comment, but when contacted, Kellman confirmed receiving a letter to appear before the Committee.

However, the minister of housing told Barbados TODAY he did not know why he was being summoned.

“The letter has nothing to do with me, so I’m not even getting involved in that,” he said.

Pressed on the issue, Kellman suggested that he was the victim of a political “witchhunt”.

“It can’t only be the chairman [of the PAC who sent the letter], it would got to be the Committee,” he said, telling Barbados TODAY that he would hate to think that Mottley was operating “on her own wild goose chase”.

He proceeded to cast doubt on the work of the Opposition-led PAC, which also includes representatives of his own Government, saying, “Any committee that is not legally done, I don’t worry about.

“I know what the Committee is supposed to do; and I know what Parliament expects . . . and I know what is supposed to be done before it could function; and as far as I know, what the Committee is doing is not what Parliament asked of it; and as far as I know it has not reported to Parliament the way it should,” Kellman said.

“If that is the case, I can’t consider it to be legal,” the St Lucy Member of Parliament stressed.

Barbados TODAY also reached out to Lashley, who is currently Minister of Transport & Works.

However, in a terse comment, he said Barbados TODAY should speak to the person who sent the summons to him.

Attorney Hal Gollop, QC, who is representing both Kellman and Lashley in the matter, said in a brief comment that he had formally responded to the letter on behalf of his clients.

“I have been retained to represent Mr Kellman and Mr Lashley and they have written off a letter to the chairman of the Committee asking for certain information, so I can advise my clients accordingly,” said Gollop.

Without providing any details of the letter, Gollop said the committee wanted to enquire into public matters.


19 Responses to ‘BLP witchhunt’

  1. Loretta Griffith November 19, 2016 at 2:09 am

    I honestly hope that all the alleged infelicities which were highlighted by the Auditor General over the past twenty five years will be brought to books and be investigated.
    I distinctly remember the Auditor General reporting on a sum of $3million which was paid out by the Public Works Department and no goods or services were received.
    Integrity demands that all alleged infelicities should be highlighted whether it be B, D or C. who allegedly committed the offense.
    When morality is being discussed all infelicities should be investigated and not play to the gallery as those like me with limited intelligence can see past the facade.
    This country is really crying out for men and women of integrity to offer themselves for service.
    I am also wary of all the so-called friendships which are clouding our judgement and stopping us from being objective.

    • Sunshine Sunny Shine November 19, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      I am not going to throw cold water on Mottley’s attempt to stem the flow of free money. However, I have to point out that under this same Barbados Labour Party, the auditor general pointed out infelicities concerning cost overruns for a roof changing project on the Oistins Fish Market that doubled the original sum. In that report, a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, now deceased, was at the centre of this particular money matter. If Mottley intends to right the wrongs, she has to investigate, as you rightfully said, all the years that the auditor general highlighted financial irregularities that simply got swept under the carpet and eventually down the secret hole.

      Mottley has to come good because the foolish are not so foolish anymore. The cry for justice is in the air and bajans and sick and fed up of all the shyte.

  2. BaJan boy November 19, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Cannot believe without knowing according them why they are summoned that they can conclude its a witch hunt. They need to take the people’s business serious and stop playing games with our lives. The Auditor General’s report is a very serious document that needs to treated that way by the elected members and if they cannot abide by the rules should not be allowed to be law makers. We have settle for far too much mediocrity and dishonesty for far too long and they have made the investigative system of the PAC too complicated so that it becomes difficult to bring them to justice. Mia as head must show her leadership and legal ability to bring some satisfaction to the tax payers of this country as leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.

  3. Carson C Cadogan November 19, 2016 at 9:27 am

    All the Ministers have to do is to ignore the requests to allend.

    Simple as that.

    A person without a Law Certificate which is required by Law in Barbados to be considered as a Lawyer has no legal authority to summons anyone.

    • harry turnover November 19, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      The AG said he was going to investigate the matter and it appears it is still under investigation.
      So who is you to say that she doesn’t have a Law Certificate ? you is only a yard fowl .

    • harry turnover November 20, 2016 at 6:36 am

      C C C as far as I know, Mia Mottley is the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament and she has THAT right .The chairperson DOES NOT HAVE to be a LAWYER,
      The OPPOSITION LEADER whether it was Erskine Sandiford or Owen Arthur in the past had that RIGHT BY LAW.
      Whether she does or does not have a Law Certificate is another matter that I would leave alone outside the off stump.
      …..but remember IF you gine question A then people gine question B too.

  4. Alex Alleyne November 19, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    The NEW money men in BIM.

  5. BaJan boy November 19, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    We are used to ignorant statements by Carson C Cadogan cause he still getting a belly full from the fatted calf. Stuart should have dumped he after Thompson dead but he survived and now spews pure partisan political ignorance…

  6. Greengiant November 19, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    The auditor general’s reports from the time the opposition held office needs to be investigated as well. This squander mania has been costing the tax payer for too long and that’s primarily the reason why public workers could never get a decent salary or wage increase.

  7. Loretta Griffith November 19, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    I am very weary of all the so-called friendships that are clouding our judgement and stopping us from being objective.

  8. Natalie Murray November 19, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    What is the cost to tax payers to replace the tiles in the units at the Grotto?

  9. Carson C Cadogan November 19, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    “Ministry of Housing
    3.10 The Ministry of Housing has a number of properties located throughout the island which are leased to individuals and firms. No statement was submitted showing the arrears position as at March 31st 2003, however audit examination of the records indicate that arrears of revenue from leases were approximately $2 million as at that date. In some instances tenants had not paid rent for over ten years which suggest that management has to improve its collection efforts.”

    AUDITOR GENERAL REPORT 2003(Barbados Labour Party was in power as they like to call it , Including MIA AMOR MOTTLEY) nothing done about it.

    “General Comments
    3.17 The management of arrears continues to be a growing problem for Government Ministries and Departments. Based on information obtained total amounts due to Government are in excess of 380 million dollars. Efforts must therefore be made to allocate an appropriate level of resources, and to put adequate systems in place to properly manage receivables.”

    AUDITOR GENERAL REPORT 2003(Barbados Labour Party was in power as they like to call it, Including MIA AMOR MOTTLEY and they were not bothered by it.

    St Leonard’s Boys’ Secondary School
    Refurbishment Project

    “In April 1996, a consulting firm was hired to provide Project management services with respect to the Re-development of the St. Leonard’s Boys’ Secondary School. Nineteen (19) contractors were recruited directly by the consulting firm to carry out the civil works on Phase 1 of the Project. The Ministry provided no evidence to show that the consulting firm had the authority to engage contractors.
    4.11 Rule 129 (2) of the Financial Administration and Audit (Financial Rules, 1971) requires that where funds to be expended by Government are borrowed from an international financial institution there should be constituted a Special Tenders Committee. It was observed that a Special Tenders Committee was not constituted as required by the Financial Rules.”

    AUDITOR GENERAL REPORT 2003 (Barbados Labour Party was in power as they like to call it, Including MIA AMOR MOTTLEY Millions of taxpayers dollars mis-spent she didnt care then.

    Now all of a sudden she interested in the Financial rules.

    When the Barbados Labour Party Govt. was wasting money like drunken sailors no member of the Govt., she included, gave a damn.

    But some how she wants us to believe that she gives a damn now. And let me get started on Dodds Prison, that is a whole different kettle of fish.

    There is lots more, 2004 report, 2005 report, 2006 report, 2007 report, made your stomach sick. All under the Barbados Labour Party Govt. of which she was a part. The Auditor General didnt start writing reports yesterday he was writing years ago which were totally ignored by the Barbados Labour Party Govt.

    • harry turnover November 20, 2016 at 6:47 am

      C C C ….then the OPPOSITION leader who was CHAIRMAN of the PAC then should have SUMMONED those responsible to appear before the Committee.
      Now you criticizing the Chairperson for doing her job.So are you saying that because DEM were silent then,that the BEES should have remained silent now ?

      • Carson C Cadogan November 20, 2016 at 11:32 am

        What the devil are you saying?

        She was a part of the problem, every Auditor General’s report have recommendations for correcting problems. None of the recommendations were followed by the Barbados Labour Party Govt. of which she was a part.

        Every single report was full of Barbados Labour Party Govt. misdeeds and none of them cared. She included.

        Now she wants us to believe that she gives damn?

        This woman is more hilarious than Bud and Lou.

        • harry turnover November 20, 2016 at 6:56 pm

          CCC …I used to call you a yard fowl BUT you like you know ” ya onions “.therefore I gine leave that talk outside the off stump too.

        • Sunshine Sunny Shine November 21, 2016 at 5:10 pm

          I got to agree with you here. Mottley is a mere hypocrite. The skeletons in her party so darn thick and yet she thinks she can cover them by appearing to look like she want to do the PAC thing. However, I still think your DLP party are a bunch of whackers.

    • Coralita November 20, 2016 at 9:34 am

      The woman preparing to be the prime minister of Barbados, so she’s trying to show that she got mettle. Lololololol

  10. Loretta Griffith November 20, 2016 at 8:06 am

    I never intended to throw cold water on anyone’s investigations, but to be as objective as one could be.
    I’ll rather have friend that would tell me when I am wrong than one who would condone my wrong doings.
    Had we call a spade a spade and exposed a lot of the wrong doings of the past and now present, this country would not be in the financial bind of which it finds itself. We are concern with holding our mouths where the soup is dropping.
    Let’s all speak up in the interest of good governance.
    Right now I am both disillusioned and disenchanted, but I do not have dual nationality.

  11. Big Brown November 21, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Two wrongs could never make a right Carson C Cadogan. What are you so afraid of?


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