ST. JOHN’S: The Government of Antigua & Barbuda has defended its decision to launch an investigation into various projects undertaken by the Baldwin Spencer administration, saying it was not engaged in a witch hunt.
In a statement, the Gaston Browne administration said that it had decided to intensify efforts “to learn more details of wrongdoing, attempted to be concealed by the previous administration.
“The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda wishes 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 assures the public that all of the investigations are warranted, and the cost of each investigation will be made public in due course,” the statement noted.
It said that Central Housing and Planning Minister, Eustace Lake, had reported that “virtually all lands” owned by the ministry “have been contributed to a joint venture arrangement” with the Gibraltar-based Bau Panel involved in low cost housing in the country.
“CHAPA owns 32 per cent of the shares of the joint venture while the other partner, who has contributed nothing, owns 68 per cent of the shares. Investigations into this anomalous arrangement have already commenced.”
The statement also said that authorities were probing the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board, after 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 into 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 which are auctioned occasionally.”
The probe by the government will also examine the Chinese-funded electricity power plant, which it said “has been a source of embarrassment even for the defeated United Progressive Party (UPP) government”.
The statement said that the approach of the new government “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.”