The Observer Media Group (OMG) has challenged the claim by the minister responsible for the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) that the statutory corporation “[wrote] off $500,000” in debts owed to it by the OMG.
Speaking in Parliament this week Minister of Public Utilities Sir Robin Yearwood said, “It was more than $1.5 million that they owed… They could not find their documents, and I said in the interest of peace, write off $500,000.”
The OMG’s General Manager Caecilia Derrick said the company “knows nothing about [the write- off]”and added that the assertion that records could not be produced to verify its debt obligations were “an outright lie”.
“I compiled a binder three or four inches thick full of documents I personally delivered to APUA. These documents were delivered again by Winston Derrick and another time they were delivered by the CEO Darren Darrick and three times APUA has lost those documents,” she said.
The general manager charged that APUA needed to “get its act together” and “having done this already three times…enough is enough”.
The OMG and APUA have been in a public debacle since OMG’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Darren Derrick accused APUA of “an attack on the only independent media house in Antigua & Barbuda” after it sued for EC $1,198,598.86 from Observer Publications Limited and EC$387,500.88 from Observer Radio Limited.
The CEO said APUA had reneged on a debt reconciliation agreement with OMG – to keep current and make payments due – for which the Cabinet, in September 2016, had publicly signalled its approval. Yesterday the general manager said that OMG “is paying its bills every month – telephone, water and electricity” and also “pays a hefty sum each month to make payments due.”
Speaking in Parliament Sir Robin said, “You can’t write me and tell me this is what you expect. It has to be negotiated and I have to accept. This government is not interested in shutting anybody out, but we have to follow the law and so we utilise the court. You can go appeal and do what you want.”
More in today’s Daily Observer.