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Barack pay rap

Tim Slinger

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AN EMINENT CARIBBEAN jurist has criticised the Barbados Government for not paying contractor Al Barack a $65 million court debt.Sir Fenton Ramsahoye, QC, who in association with Sir Richard Cheltenham, QC, represented Barack in arbitration hearings, said Government’s silence on the matter was wrong and sent an undemocratic signal.“I’ve never encountered a Caribbean government that didn’t honour the judgement of its own court . . . . Not even in Guyana where things have been bad but is much improved now. This is the only judgement that I know of that hasn’t been honoured,” Sir Fenton told the SUNDAY SUN yesterday.“Nowhere in Barbadian history has this happened. The prime minister said that he would pay this debt, he’s ill, so nobody can go to him now. “But there are others in the camp (government) now and they must take up the mantle, remember what he (prime minister) had said and act accordingly,” he added.Sir Fenton said Barack’s lawyers were willing to sit down and talk with Government’s representatives about settling the debt, given the tough economic times.“Times are hard, but look what they (Government) are doing . . .  building two nine-storey buildings at $400 million and allowing a $34 million debt to climb up with interest,” he charged, referring to Government’s ongoing multi-storey projects in Warrens, St Michael. Fenton also expressed concern about the absence of dialogue on settlement of the debt.“No one knows what is going on because nothing is being said. If there wasn’t silence you would know that there is dialogue and that the matter would be pushed towards a solution. But with this silence it means that the Government had decided that they wouldn’t bother about the payment of the debt,” he noted.Earlier this year, the battle between Barack and the National Housing Corporation (NHC) took a new twist with the High Court awarding a charging order in his favour.In the matter Justice Maureen Crane-Scott ruled that Barack could now seek an order for the sale of the NHC’s multimillion-dollar complex in Warrens, St Michael, valued at $73 million, to recover the $65 million debt owed to him by the Government statutory corporation.The court also  added two parcels of land belonging to NHC in Hopeland, near Rices, St Philip, worth more than $2 million.Around the same period, Barack’s lawyers rejected a $45 million offer by Government to settle the money dispute.Under the suggested terms, Government was proposing to make an initial payment of $15 million by January 31, and payments of over $1.5 million monthly for 18 months until the debt was paid in full.