PM says there’s a conspiracy against the Deputy PM

vlcsnap-2013-05-31-20h01m50s231Orange Walk North area representative and Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Gaspar Vega has been implicated in two alleged scandals – the destruction of the ancient Noh Mul Maya mound for road-fill to be used in his constituency, and a nephew’s being granted a contract to pave the important San Antonio Road which was never done. On the first matter P.M. Barrow came to Vega’s defense, saying that he believes that Minister Vega did not know of any destruction of the site, or any use of the landfill in his constituency. He suggests that there is a conspiracy against the Deputy Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow:
vlcsnap-2013-05-31-19h32m49s217I don’t know that he would have been the arranger. I believe the Ministry of Works would have been the arranger. But that he would have had a hand in selecting the areas for infrastructural improvement, I have no doubt. I don’t know the way you frame it… you see clearly, what you are trying to do is to somehow tie him up with the company that carried out the excavation works. It is absolutely remote. If I hire a contractor to build my house and the contractor gets material from Noh Mul, you are going to lay blame for that at my door; especially if I have no knowledge? That’s not my concern. Look, there obviously is a targeted attack with respect to the Deputy Prime Minister, and hopefully he can deal with that and can handle himself. I don’t want to appear to be jumping at shadows, but when in regards to the Noh Mul incident, there is going to be an effort to work in some kind of culpability, however remote, on the part of the Deputy Prime Minister, but I must take objection. I must take offense. That is really weird. 

On the question of the San Antonio Road, an investigation has been opened. Prime Minister Dean Barrow shares details.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow:
vlcsnap-2013-05-31-22h15m03s251There is a preliminary report that’s been prepared for me; let me tell you where things are and what I am doing to, as it were, forward this matter. There is no doubt that some contracts were signed for work on the San Antonio road; those contracts were cancelled, the financial secretary confirms that the money that have been allocated – his permission was sought for shifting of the funds, instead to do work in the Otro Benque area, which you will be no doubt delighted to learn is in the constituency of the deputy prime minister. I don’t know that the financial secretary knew which works were to replace the San Antonio works that had been contracted for but he gave permission for the re-allocation of the funds. Mr. Medina, the district engineer, confirms that his file will contain a note showing that, in fact, the San Antonio road contracts were cancelled and Minister ‘Boots’ Martinez says he has some handwriting notes that would bear this out, that the monies were used to do these various works in the Otro Benque area.  

Some things, according to the Prime Minister, remain unknown.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow:
What remains a mystery is why payments were made that on the face of them evidenced that these payments were being done in connection with contracts that were already cancelled.  I haven’t spoken to Mr Medina directly, but the report said that he’s saying “Well, it was a frenzied time, everybody was under pressure, and so that was a mistake.”   I can’t simply leave it there, so the Ministry of Finance is asking for all this to be documented  in writing.  The Ministry of Works, and in particular that official must say this to us, put it on the record, and then we go from there. That is the position.  it is still unsatisfactory, but certainly not as unsatisfactory as it would have been , if in fact there had been no cancellation of the San Antonio Road contract. And if  in fact it would have been as the story, quite properly on the basis of the then available facts, suggested that Imer Hernandez was paid for work on the San Antonio road when in fact, under a contract which he did not perform, which he did not execute.

But the contractor is clearly moving on.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow;
I don’t know that he’s done any works the since the series of works done at that time, which was in 2012.  I got the sense that Mr Hernandez, who from all reports is an excellent contractor, has moved on to far bigger things.  I believe he’s won a number of contracts funded by the international agencies, which you know those standards are scrutinized very carefully.  And so there’s been no need.  But I did not, at the time, see any difficulty at all with Mr Hernendez’s company being contracted to do the works, providing we’re going to get value for money.  I repeat that there was nothing I ever heard that suggested that Mr Hernandez had a track record to suggest that anything other than value for money would be what we obtained from him.

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