Sinckler: Don’t you derail it!
CONTRACTOR AL BARRACK has been advised not to derail attempts to pay him the $70 million owed by Government.
He had given Government an ultimatum, demanding to be paid by the end of February, or face further court action.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler told the SUNDAY SUN yesterday that though he would not comment on the contractor’s ultimatum, which expired last Wednesday, Government was “closer to a solution than from it”.
“Negotiations are ongoing, and my view is that if anything happens, if Mr Barrack or anyone else inside or outside of the system on his side does anything to cause this particular course of action to be derailed, then we can’t take responsibility for it. I mean, we have come very far with this process,” he said.Matter being solved
Sinckler added he was determined as Minister of Finance, and with the remit issued to him by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, to have the matter solved.
He said that up to last Friday, he had been reviewing documents in relation to the matter.
“There are people in the private sector that Government is working with to resolve this matter, in terms of getting the resources necessary to honour our obligations as established by the courts . . . . If it were left to me, it would’ve been done six months ago, but unfortunately, some things are beyond my control.
“I have to wait on the process and the legal people who, of course, go through these things with a fine-tooth comb, making sure that everything is right and adequate before Government is advised to sign off.”
Sinckler said while he understood Barrack’s frustration, he believed the contractor should not direct his anger at the present Government and its efforts to settle the matter.
“I think he knows where this mess started and he should focus his attention on them whilst we use our best efforts and talents and resources to busily get to the process of resolving this matter,” he said.
“I can only urge him to be a little more patient. He has been very patient over the years and the frustration level obviously is rising.
“But I think that from where I sit, we are closer to a solution than we are from one, and I would hate for anything to derail that at this stage.”
Meantime, Barrack said he would wait and see what Government’s next action would be.
He described the events leading to the present situation as “reckless” on the part of Government.
In 2006, Barrack was awarded judgment for a $34 million debt for work on the Warrens Office Complex. That figure has since burgeoned with interest.
“They realize that they have to pay the bill, they said they were going to pay it, but they didn’t pay it. What do they expect me to do? Sit quiet?”
Barrack told the SUNDAY SUN it was not his intention to do “anything else at this time until the situation has been resolved”.
“I am not squeezing the Government. I am simply asking them for my money. And now that I am seeing things moving, especially on paper on their part, that I personally know of, I think it would be totally unreasonable for me to go and add more to that problem again,” he added.