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$1/2 million quiz

Trevor Yearwood

$1/2 million quiz

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Questions are being asked about former Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley’s management of her party’s special election fund, even as candidates dismiss the idea of a leadership struggle within the 72-year-old institution.
The questions relate to a three-page internal report, obtained by the SUNDAY?SUN, on the use of the special trust fund the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) set up to meet the cost of elections.
According to the document prepared by former treasurer Tyrone Barker, nearly $1/2 million was in the account after the January 2008 general election.
However, when Mottley ceased to be Opposition Leader in October 2010, a mere $143 000 was left in the account.
According to the report, the money had been used principally to meet the cost of the Opposition Leader’s Office, including monthly salary commitments of $7 500.
The salary payments totalled $225 000 over 30 months, the report said while listing names and precise monthly amounts. The account also assisted in the settlement of other salaries to the tune of $20 000 “on a few occasions” when the party was unable to pay, the Barker Report said. Other payments, which also contributed to the $415 000 shortfall in the special account, included weekly radio broadcast charges in the amount of $43 000 over the same period.
When contacted yesterday, Mottley refused to comment. However, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, who is now Opposition Leader, said it was unfortunate that the report had  come to the attention of the public before there had been a chance for the BLP’s national council to discuss it and determine the response.
He said the report “speaks for itself”, but that he would not publicly criticize Mottley over it.
“I don’t want to appear as though I am fighting with Miss Mottley,” he commented. “I am trying desperately to hold the Barbados LabourParty together.”
He pointed out that under his leadership of the BLP the fund had been managed by the trustees and always kept separate from the ordinary accounts of the party “for good reasons”.
Arthur’s comments came after about a dozen BLP candidates, all non-parliamentarians, met at the party’s Roebuck Street, St Michael headquarters to discuss “burning” issues and how they could further help the party.
Former Government minister Reverend Joseph Atherley told the SUNDAY SUN: “There seems to be a perception abroad in Barbados, and sufficiently so, that we should be concerned about it, that the Barbados Labour Party is not presenting a unified front to the public and some people associate that with the matter of leadership.
“This meeting was of the view that there is no leadership issue in the party, that in fact the leadership issue between Miss Mottley and Mr Arthur, that was resolved for the party back in October.
“The forum today concluded that that’s not an issue, but there is a perception still persisting out there that there is a divided party, that some people are operating on a parallel track and not following the strategic direction of the party.”
He added: “This forum therefore wanted to stress the fact that as people with a vested interest we feel that all of those who are part of the party’s platform should step in sync with the party, should respect the organs of the party and should not contribute to that appearance of anybody operating in any parallel sphere or on a parallel track.”