KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — This country has so far spent EC$3.79 million in its eight-year-old attempt to find out who, if anyone, is culpable for monies unaccounted for during the construction of the Ottley Hall Marina and Shipyard.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament on Thursday that payment to commissioners amounted to EC$407,571, salaries for other professionals was EC$1.18 million, lawyers for the commission received EC$1.03 million, while administrative and other cost totalled EC$1.06 million.
He further said that persons before the Ottley Hall Commission of Inquiry, who have brought several legal challenges, including one that is into its third year, have caused delays.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Legal Affairs, said that the Commission was instrumental in his government securing debt relief when the country still owed EC$180 million on the project constructed by the New Democratic Party administration under former prime minister Sir James Mitchell, which was in office for the 17 years ending March 2001.
Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party administration paid US$6 million and received EC$164 million in debt relief even as the NDP had paid over a 30-month period EC$19 million in interest on loans for the project.
“What they paid for in interest in two and a half years is more than what I got Ottley Hall for – the whole property down there and nearly six times what we have spent on the Inquiry,” Gonsalves told Parliament.
“I will say that that investment, given the context that I have outlined is a magnificent investment. And we are not finished yet because we have to know the full truth and there are certain other matters that would have to be tied up as a consequence when we know the full truth,” he further told lawmakers.