ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda decided last week to intensify efforts to learn more details of alleged wrongdoing in several ministries, statutory bodies, and departments, attempted to be concealed, by the previous administration.
The minister with responsibility for the central housing and planning authority (CHAPA), Eustace Lake, reported that virtually all lands owned by CHAPA have been contributed to a joint venture arrangement with a company called Bau Panel. CHAPA owns 32% of the shares of the joint venture; while the other partner, who has contributed nothing, owns 68% of the shares. Investigations into this anomalous arrangement have already commenced.
The minister with responsibility for the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board, Robin Yearwood, indicated that more than 100 government vehicles are unaccounted for; and, vehicles have seemingly been auctioned for sums far below their values. Since both Public Works Department and the Transport Board collaborate on auctions, the investigation of both departments in relation to this unusual set of circumstances has already begun. The government of Antigua and Barbuda -- the new administration has learned -- owns more than 3,500 cars, buses, trucks, backhoes, bulldozers and sundry types of motorized equipment that are auctioned occasionally.
In the case of the Romantic Rhythms Concert, no audited accounts have been completed since the show took place nearly seven years ago. More than $7 million dollars of taxpayers’ money are therefore unaccounted for, contrary to law. The Cabinet determined that this had to be investigated. In addition, to determine how each mile of road cost $10 million dollars, at and around the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, an investigation has already been launched.
The failing power plant at Crabbs, built with Chinese money and expertise, has been a source of embarrassment even for the defeated United Progressive Party (UPP) government and the newly-elected Labour Party administration is moving to fulfill a promise to reveal the facts.
The Cabinet said it wished to assure the Antigua and Barbuda public that the highest level of probity and commonsense will prevail, in attempting to determine what precisely went wrong at the bodies it has identified as ripe for investigation. The government assured the public that all of the investigations are warranted, and the cost of each investigation will be made public in due course.
“The approach of the Labour Party administration is unlike the witch hunts and character assassination attempts of the previous UPP government. The concealed payments of millions of taxpayers’ dollars, by the UPP -- made to investigative firms that fed civil and other cases throughout the courts --- will not be the modus operandi of the newly-elected government,” the Cabinet said.