Saturday, 14 April 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St John's - The government of Antigua and Barbuda is operating on the pillars of a dictatorship, as the statements made by Deputy Prime Minster Harold Lovell on Thursday spit in the face of democracy.
That was the opinion of Opposition Member of Parliament Molwyn Joseph, who responded to the minister’s comments on Cabinet’s “unanimous rejection” of yet another request for an inquiry into the controversial Wadadli Power Plant.
In an interview with Caribarena.com, Joseph said the UPP government has not delivered on any of the promises for accountability and freedom of information that it campaigned upon, but has instead “made a mockery” of principles important for a democracy to run effectively.
He said Lovell’s “callous attitude as a minister” has insulted the public, and he has acted in a way inconsistent with the duties outlined in the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda.
“The first thing I would like to say to Mr Lovell is that this is an issue of accountability…” Joseph said. “There is the cardinal principal in our democracy and that is the people have a right to know. And by denying the people of Antigua and Barbuda the opportunity to see an inquiry into this important issue, is an insult.”
He said based on Lovell’s comments, the ALP can now say clearly that the government has admitted to borrowing US$47 million for the plant.
“I really believe this is a matter of serious concern… Any government that refuses to account is a government that is now functioning on the platform of dictatorship," Joseph said. "Our system of democracy does not allow for the facilitation of dictatorship rule, and I am hoping that the people would take a decisive action against the UPP administration."
Finance Minister Harold Lovell said on Thursday that for the government to move forward with an inquiry, the public, or any group requesting the inquest, must first provide evidence and/or documentation to support grounds for the investigation.
He reiterated earlier sentiments that the loan from the Chinese, having not passed through Parliament, was illegal, and only government officials and other relevant players had any knowledge of the details of the transaction and the contract.
The MP noted also that the government, and all the ministers, are well aware that since 2008 when the loan agreement was signed, Parliament had not received a request to authorize the borrowing for the purchase of the Wadadli Power Plant.
“How can the minister expect the people to provide documentation when they have basically put an embargo on all the documentation related to the transaction to establish the Wadadli Power plant?” the MP asked. “The public is still in the dark. The public has not had an opportunity to see any documents.”
Further, in addressing Lovell’s statements that both Cabinet and the UPP executive body have rejected the call for a public inquiry, Joseph said that is cause for concern, since the latter organ has no legal standings in the operations of governance and therefore should not have an opinion of consequence in this or any other matter.
Such a statement, he said, would reflect the first instance in Antigua’s history where a political executive has openly interfered in the country’s governance.
“I think this is a matter that is very serious in Antigua and Barbuda, where a minister of government can so brazenly say to the public that the political organisation has an influence on the governance of the country…” he said.
Referring to the latest call for an inquest into the Wadadli Power plant, Joseph cited knowledge of comments made by Minister Wilmoth Daniel about a conversation between himself and the Chinese ambassador in which the latter admitted to never confirming that the government had indeed purchased a new power plant.
Instead, Joseph said that based on Daniel’s statements, the diplomat had actually noted that the government knew it was receiving used engines.See related stories:
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