Chris Sinckler, Minister of Finance and Senator Darcy Boyce at the centre of the Pierhead dispute
The controversy over the Pierhead Marina and the award of the contract to non-bidder, SMI Infrastructure Solutions (SMI) is well known. For the sake of completeness it should be noted that the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SMI since February 2011 when the Minister of Finance, with much fan fare announced shortly thereafter that construction work on the Marina would commence within 12 months.
Under section 5.0 of the MOU it was agreed that: “SMI will arrange financing through a third party for the work to be done under this MOU”. In other words SMI would be responsible for funding the new Marina design which was being undertaken by its prime marine engineering consultant, W F Baird and Associates.
On Monday 31st October 2011Citicorp Merchant Bank Limited advised the Government of Barbados that it was unable to raise the Bds$40.0 million on behalf of SMI. On the 1st November 2011 the CEO and Chairman of BTI were invited to meet with the Permanent Secretary of Investment in the Ministry of Finance and the Minister of Finance, Mr. Chris Sinckler to discuss the situation.
Attention: The Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler
Your Budget presentation and wrap up session was keenly observed by many. When all hope seemed lost you then addressed the Pierhead Marina saga. This was under the guise of HMBS Pelican base at Spring Garden and the faults with that design and construction. You attempted to link the Pierhead Marina designers Halcrow to the minor construction problems with HMBS Pelican although you know that reports on the issue of liability have repeatedly indicated the problems rest squarely with the contractors and developers JADA CONSTRUCTION LIMITED and or abnormal sea conditions.
It was a crude mistake made by an immature politician who already on this ice for having tried his level best to leapfrog Freundel Stuart MP for the post of prime minister, has taken on additional political liability which he himself cannot imagine and the likes of which will severely damage is political ambitions including the position of Minister of Finance. Mr. Sinckler has shown his hand the result being he will have a brand seared into his palm for all to see.
This is a man that certain special interest factions sought to have elevated to Prime Minister, its a good thing his fellow MPs realized the problem that would create and back raised him when the vote was called on the morning of David Thompson’s death.
Having defamed the reputation of a company whose annual revenue is nearly that of the total annual budget of Barbados, the Minister of Finance can look forward to lawsuit for defamation from the same company. The privilege of parliament will not protect him, remember Don Blackman and COW Williams? The Privy Council ruled against parliamentary privilege, sure Mr. Sinckler is aware of this.
My deepest sympathy goes out to Mrs. Mara Thompson, her daughters and entire family. I would like to hold onto my special memories of the late Prime Minister and recall one of our few exchanges. Soon after his illness was announced, you could see the strain on his face, and in a simple attempt to bring a smile, I emailed him a YouTube extract of a BBC ‘Yes Prime Minister’ episode. In his inimitable style, a few minutes later, a message came back, ‘Adrian, Thank you, it’s my favourite programme’.
Every time I visit the Hilton, I leave thinking the same thought. Didn’t ‘we’ miss an incredible opportunity?
Whether it was a decision taken due to financial restrictions or simply lack of vision, perhaps we will never know. The location must be one of the most spectacular on Barbados. It has all the ingredients anyone could wish for. A protected beach, the long crescent shaped Carlisle Bay and both the Garrison Savannah and capital within comfortable walking distance.
Architecturally and structurally, I would have thought that it could easily have been incorporated, in the basement or on the roof. A single meeting space on one level of at least 10,000 square feet that has the functionality of sub-division.