By David Bryan
Firstly, it must be said; some men are born cowards, some men are made cowards and some have cowardice thrust upon them. In seeking to be true, my conscious would not allow me to be a duly qualified candidate in any of the 3 above categories by remaining silent in the face of this undemocratic attempt to sell out this country’s present and future rights in waste energy management by this Democratic Labour Party government to Cahill Energy Limited for the next 30 years.
What has happened between the Government of Barbados and Cahill has set a dangerous precedent of the complete absence of accountability, transparency and good governance for and on behalf of the people of Barbados. This Government must be reminded it was voted in to govern “in the good affairs of the management of Barbados” and not chosen to reign as it sees fit.
It does not have the luxury to pick and chose which issues it is comfortable with and therefore answer when it suits them albeit in a dismissive manner. The DLP cannot do as it likes, when it likes or however it likes and proceed to ignore time-honoured principles, protocols and conventions in the implementation and execution of major projects in Barbados.
No man is an island and equally, no political party is bigger than any country. The people therefore do not have to “beg” for answers; the people of Barbados have every God-given right to demand answers about Cahill, its principal directors and any Agreement pertaining to those which were signed by the representatives who were elected to run this nation.
Having perused the Agreements which are in the public domain, one wonders, how many more “Cahill-like Agreements” exist and what other areas have been signed off by this Government under the cover of night which may prejudice the rights of future generations of Barbadians?
Without a doubt, there are many superfluous issues passing-off as “teacup storms” in this country, but $700 million is certainly a Category 4 hurricane which requires the full attention of right-thinking Barbadians.
It is difficult to digest the logic and reasoning behind Government’s appetite and unquenchable thirst for this particular type of Waste- energy project- aka plasma gasification- an unproven mode of technology not operational in any part of the globe.
More astonishing, is the granting by the GoB to Cahill the “exclusive right to develop, own and operate waste to energy facilities in the territory of Barbados” for 30 years “ in the first “Heads of Terms Agreement” signed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and M.E. Cowan on Septemeber 13th, 2013.
What is particularly disturbing about this “exclusively” to Cahill, it was further expanded upon in a later Agreement- known as the Imlementation Agreement- “ unanimously and unconditionally approved by Cabinet and signed by the Governement of Barbados acting by” Senator Darcy W. Boyce, the Hon. Denis Kellman, Dr.the Hon. Denis Lowe, the Hon. Christopher ZP. Sinckler, Margot Harvey (Chairman of Sanitation Service Authority) and M.E.Claire Cowan of Cahill Energy (Barbados) Limited on March 15 March 2014.
Clause 3 titled “Exclusivity”; stated Government hereby grants CEB the exclusive right “to all waste arising out of Barbados during the Term that falls within the Waste Specification inclusive all waste tyres but excluding any shredded waste tyres imported by CEL”.
The clear issue here is whether or not this Agreement is a valid binding Agreement given the extent and nature of this exclusive clause?
This exclusive arrangement in the Agreement has in effect placed other waste players in the market at a competitive disadvantage and interferes with individual liberty of action in trading of waste in Barbados and as a result; it is contrary to public policy.
Any Agreement(s) which is likely to have an effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in a market is prohibitive, and as a consequence the contract is then by its very nature illegal – not enforceable.
Governments should be in the business of liberalizing markets not closing them in favour of a select few. This really amounts to anti-competitive business conduct and as such this waste to energy deal with Cahill is a bad deal for Barbados at all levels.
The deal amounts to a really awful deal for this country when one considers the issue of the site at Vauculse, St.Thomas. On Wednesday, this week, in the Upper Chamber, Senator Jepter Ince during the debate, for the compulsory acquisition of approximately 27 acres of land at Vauculse; stated as a matter of fact, the land in question was not for the Cahill Energy Project.
On the contrary, this presumption must be rebutted, since it is enunciated in the Incorporated Terms Memorandum Agreement signed on March 15th 2014 that “site” means: “an area of 15 acres forming part of a larger area… of Vaucluse Plantation”. In the Executed Heads of Term Agreement signed on March 15th 2014 Clause 5.1 states:
“No later than 3 months after the date of the Final Agreement the Government shall sell to CEB for the sum of USD1 the freehold of the proposed site… and convey the site into the name of CEB. The site will be sold with vacant possession on completion and without restriction”.
5.2 The Government shall pay or waive all stamp duty, transfer and registration taxes or levies payable in relation to the transfer of the site to CEB and the registration of title to the site in the name of CEB
The Government of Barbados will have to pay for the 27 acres of land at Vaucluse Plantation at fair market value, with real tax payers dollars, but what the Agreement is purporting is “to sell” 15 acres to Cahill “for the sum of USD1” and to pay or waive all land registration fees in the registration of title to CEB.
It was stated in no uncertain terms by the good Senator Verla Depezia that it was not patriotic for confidential documents to be leaked or taken up after they “fall off” of trucks. How do we describe the “give-a-away” of prime land by the Government of Barbados to CEB on an island that is only 166 square miles, and so many people cannot find affordable housing in this country?
Finally, it must be said that we in Barbados enjoy a certain level of democratic maturity associated with develop societies. The majority of us pride our development as a nation and contrary to popular belief Barbados cannot be bought for $600 million or $ 6 Billion. The price for freedom to choose who we think deserve to represent our best interest as citizens of Barbados has always been and always will be non-negotiable.