As has been reported, quite the ruckus unfolded at the Lands Department last week. The incident made news after CEO of the Ministry of Housing, Lawrence Sylvester had to be escorted out of the building by armed security. The confrontation came about because of a few abandoned properties at the Fresh Pond Housing Community which had been distributed. Sylvester visited the Ministry to inquire about lots which were allegedly being handed out to associates of Hon. Gaspar Vega. According to the C.E.O., the Ministry of Housing has equity interest in those lots since there are structures on them. However Prime Minister Barrow backed the Minister of Natural Resources Minister and Deputy PM the Honorable Gaspar Vega in his decision to issue out some of the properties, one of which went to his driver.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow:
I know that my sister was trying to get one property up there for a deserving constituent. It turns out that indeed that property was given to the brother of the driver of the Deputy Prime Minister. Im have absolutely no difficulty with that. Clearly the feeling is that it was put in the name of the brother, but that it is really for the driver. As far as I’m concerned, the Deputy Prime Minister is not by any means a rich man, deserving of a property. There may have been a partial structure on the property. I don’t know if it’s a complete house. But those properties there are not in the best of condition, as we all know. I have not a problem with that. I would have liked if somebody from Queen’s Cove would have got it, but to me the Deputy Prime Minister’s driver is as deserving as anybody else. I’ve heard of other people who are UPD party supporters getting [property]. I’ve heard the name of A K Kelly. As far as I know A K is a struggling fellow, and completely deserving. So I really don’t know that the Deputy Prime Minister did anything wrong at all. In fact I’m prepared to say that in my view he did nothing wrong.
According to reports, the properties with the unfinished housed were to be granted to first time land owners and low income earners. However it is alleged that the parcels were actually granted to “higher ups” within the UDP Party.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow:
People like the Deputy Prime Minister’s driver, people like A K, I don’t know how you could call them UDP higher-ups. And I don’t know of any agreement that Cabinet of elsewhere had said, look there’s a number of properties at Fresh Pond that we agree to reserve for constituents of Queen’s Square. No. The only people who knew about these properties would have been the people at Housing and the people in Lands. In the absence of any kind of Cabinet agreement, I don’t know what would have stopped the Deputy Prime Minister from awarding these properties to deserving persons. Surely the fact that you’re UDP doesn’t disqualify you. Life is real. Clearly in this case it perhaps over-qualifies you. As long as the personalities that got the properties are not people with five or six properties, or people who are well-heeled, or are making a great deal of money, I don’t have a problem. I’m saying certainly the two names that I have heard don’t fall into the category of being well-heeled, don’t fall into the category of people who are well-off, but are just being greedy. So I really don’t have a problem.