Hon. Fraser questions Government’ Transparency

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During the 18 March VIP’s Let’s Talk program on ZBVI radio on the night following His Excellency Governor John S. Duncan announcement that there will be no commission of inquiry into the cruise pier project, Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Chairman Hon. Julian Fraser announced that he was not surprised by the decision.

Hon. Fraser stated “I recognize the authority of the Governor and I respect his decision regarding the request for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into the Cruise Pier Project by the Public Accounts Committee I also recognize the hand Government has played in effecting this outcome through the careful manipulation of events and the control of facts relevant to the study and the case.”

The VIP Chairman said that the Auditor General’s Report on the Cruise Ship Pier Project which was requested by former Governor William Boyd McCleary, was kept undisclosed for years despite repeated requests by the Opposition to both the Governor and the Premier. In fact, Hon. Fraser stated that the report was only made public by the Premier after the Public Accounts Committee had completed their Report and tabled it in the House of Assembly.

“This behaviour by the Premier and the then Governor served as a cover for bad behaviour on the part of the Smith Administration…It is important to recognize that the Auditor General’s report, upon which the Public Accounts Committee’s report itself is based, covers only a part of the Cruise Ship Pier project…For by him considering the current Port’s Project in his reaching a decision, he had lost the specifics of the mandate given to him for an Inquiry by both the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee in their Reports,” Hon. Fraser stated.

He added: “This other statement by the Governor, ‘The initial report from a study into our tendering and procurement procedures by the Caribbean Development Bank commissioned by the Premier with the agreement of Governor McCleary was not available to me until the end of December…’ is hard to convince me or any rational thinker that the Premier played no role in him reaching this decision.”

“Why would the Governor use a report commissioned by the Premier to decide whether to investigate the Premier?…Then too, the Governor got lured into a trap when forced by the Premier to examine the Sea Cow’s Bay Harbour Project, and the Greenhouse Project in conjunction with the Cruise Pier Project. Even knowing full well that neither of these two projects had made it to the Public Accounts Committee, which in the very words of his two predecessors, is protocol,” the VIP Chairman asked.

Hon. Fraser went on to say: “The Premier who as I said took several years and much pressure from the Opposition was literally forced into making the Pier Park Report by the Auditor General public, but took only one week to get the Sea Cow’s Bay Harbour Project from the Auditor General through Cabinet and debated in the House of Assembly, and in time to reach the Governor’s desk to be considered along with the Cruise Pier Project Reports.”

“This type of behaviour gives rise for speculating that the process was hijacked through a type of highhanded manipulation of events. We would have thought that our Premier would have acted in a more transparent manner, and more importantly, that the Governor would have recognized it for what it really was,” he added.

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