“It’s a very interesting notion and we have not ruled out any possible activities,” Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday told a press conference last week when asked that question.
The question came as the NDP continues to press the government to account to Parliament for the hundreds of millions of dollars spent to built the Argyle International Airport and monies it received under PetroCaribe, Venezuela’s oil initiative.
The opposition wants the accounts for the state-owned companies to be laid in the nation’s Parliament, but the government is resisting, saying that because these are companies – and not statutory bodies – the government needs only lodge the financials with the Commercial and Intellectual Property Office.
Friday noted that he wrote to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves — who is also Minister of Finance — on May 2 as a follow-up on an April 19 NDP press conference on the matter.
“I thought it was fair that I do so because the first statement I made was a public statement. I wrote to him to urge him to respond in accordance with the Constitution for the accounts to be presented to Parliament, particularly in respect to the IADC.”
The International Airport Development Company (IADC), is a state-owned company set up in 2004 to build the AIA.
The AIA opened on Feb. 14, 2017, six years behind schedule and at a cost of EC$700 million according to the government claims — almost twice the initial estimates.
Friday said Gonsalves’ response — which came by way of a letter in May — was “very dismissive and, in some instances, very insulting and condescending”.
He said the letter he sent to Gonsalves was “one more step that we (opposition) took in the process and we will look at all the options available to us as to how we can continue to press this issue”.
The opposition leader said many persons have become engaged in the discussion about accountability.
“There’s not a single issue that I have been participating in in the last several years in this country — other than probably the [election] petitions — where people on the street will stop me all the time and ask me about it.
“It shows that the ordinary man is concerned — or woman — is concerned about it.”
Friday said while going to court is an option, he was not saying that that is the option that his New Democratic Party was “going to jump to now”.
He, however, said there are provisions where the opposition can ask the court for a declaration regarding those matters.
“But it is not something that we are contemplating presently, but certainly it is an option.”
Friday said that what the NDP wants is very straightforward and that is why it resonated with “everybody”.
“You are saying you have received public monies. There is a basic requirement set out in the law to say this is how you report on it.”
He noted, however, that the prime minister is saying that they set up a company and the company doesn’t have to report to Parliament.
“What are you saying then? That you design something that doesn’t have to report to Parliament but is spending public money? Can that be right? Is that something that people would accept? You created it. It didn’t fall from heaven like manna. You created that device,” Friday said.