Caswell: It makes me shame
GOVERNMENT AND THE OPPOSITION traded verbal blows yesterday over engagement of English firm White Oak Advisory.
Senator Caswell Franklyn, the Opposition’s lead spokesman in the Senate, called the company, which has been hired to negotiate Barbados’ domestic and foreign debt restructurings, a “fly-by-night” entity whose hiring had become Government’s “Achilles heel”.
But Government Senators Rudy Grant and Kay McConney, said the Mia Mottley administration was transparent about its dealings with White Oak, and that based on its previous work, the company was “the obvious choice”.
Franklyn sparked discussion on the issue while debating changes to The Charities Act and other pieces of legislation related to the financial sector.
“Nobody in Barbados knew who White Oak was; maybe one or two but they didn’t tell us. They promised the Opposition that we would get the opportunity to interview White Oak when they come back to Barbados. They come and gone and they never told the Opposition anything,” he complained.
“The Government is uncomfortable with the whole topic of White Oak. This is not the only company available in the world that can do this business . . . . The only way you would do this was if they were one of a kind and their services were unique.”
Franklyn added: “You have a whole lot of people in Barbados who you are giving consultancies to, who teach at university, who do all kinds of stuff, but you don’t trust the locals to do what these people . . . have been doing.
“There must be more disclosure . . . . Now that this information has come out, it makes me shame. This is what you would do in a banana republic,” he said in reference to a recent Financial Times article stating White Oak would be paid US$27 million in fees.
On the need for more disclosure, Grant responded that Government “has clearly in a very transparent way communicated the relationship with White Oak”.
McConney, who is Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, said “of the 14 sovereign restructurings done in the world since 2005, White Oak advised on seven, Lazards on four and Citi one.
“It was therefore the obvious choice for Barbados,” she said. (SC)
IN THIS SCREENSHOT, Senator Caswell Franklyn sparked discussion on White Oak during the debate
on changes to The Charities Act yesterday. (GP)