St. John’s Antigua- Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer is likely to face yet another no confidence motion brought against him by leader of the Opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Lester Bird who claims “the people” have lost confidence in the country’s leader.
Bird, who filed a similar motion in 2009, shared a draft copy of a second no confidence resolution, dated April 16, which he intends to take to Parliament at the next sitting in coming weeks.
The ALP leader accused PM Spencer of not acting in a responsible, transparent, lawful and dutiful manner as required by The Integrity in Public Life Act 2004, The Prevention of Corruption Act 2004, and The Freedom of Information Act 2004 as it relates to a number of matters of national interest.
The no confidence motion addresses the alleged shortcomings related to the Wadadli Power Plant. It also alleges unlawful changes to the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act as well as the removal of members from the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC), and the fencing scandal.
More importantly, he said, the prime minister and or the finance minister have failed to seek the approval of Parliament for more than 50 separate loan agreements totaling more than $1.5 billion from 2004 to date.
The former prime minister said the people have lost confidence in the country’s leader after “having listened to and viewed a three-hour-long press conference that failed to persuade them that the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) received value for money spent” in the US $47 million Wadadli power plant deal.
There has been controversy over the plant and whether the equipment installed and commission in September are new.
The ALP leader charged that the nation has been denied access to any documentation that would conclusively prove that APUA was supplied with a power plant as contracted for given that it was never put before parliament.
“The subsequent lack of transparency by the Minister with responsibility for APUA, the Government, its agents and servants have clearly convinced reasonable people to conclude that incompetence (among other things) contributed to this debacle,” Bird noted.
Bird then said the fencing scandal is just as big a disgrace for the government, particularly for the Finance Minister Harold Lovell and PM Spencer.
It is alleged that between 2007 and the elections of 2009, the Ministry of Sports entered into more than one hundred contracts, costing millions, to build fences, viewing stands, roundabouts, bathrooms, parking aprons and sundry projects.
Bird alleges the outlay was never approved by the parliament or approved by the Tenders Board or the Development Control Authority.
He said, “Having been persuaded that PM Spencer knows that tens of millions of dollars were wastefully expended on fences, unfinished bathrooms, viewing stands, and other projects that have yielded no economic benefit to the taxpayers, he has failed in his fiduciary responsibilities to act as is required under the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
The opposition leader hopes to achieve a majority vote in Parliament for the immediate revocation of Spencer’s instrument of appointment as prime minister after which, the person who has majority confidence in parliament would be appointed to lead the state.
He told OBSERVER Media, “We are going to ask for a division and show of hand so that we are able to identify all those people in the House who do not support what is clearly a situation in which there should be an inquiry. We want to see which members of parliament lack the kind of courage and lack the kind of empathy with the people of this country by not voting for the fact that there should be an inquiry.”
Apart from in September 2009 when he actually put a similar motion to parliament though on different grounds, Bird threatened to file no confidence motions in 2008, 2010 and 2011.