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Thursday, 23 September, 2021
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‘Bring it on’ – Lovell responds to PM’s threats of inquiry into airport runway loan

By Shermain Bique-Charles

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A seemingly unperturbed UPP party leader Harold Lovell says he is ready for the fight, following an announcement by Prime Minister Gaston Browne that a probe will be carried out into a US$94 million loan given to the former UPP administration.

Browne said over the weekend that the Cabinet had agreed that a forensic audit into money loaned to extend the runway at VC Bird International Airport should be conducted – followed by a commission of inquiry – to “put people like Harold Lovell on the stand”.

“This is a politically motivated pappyshow,” Lovell told Observer yesterday, questioning why the matter is of interest seven years after the UPP left office.

“Why now, after seven years in government? What about the e-books scandal? The Odebrecht scandal? The Long Bay land deal scandal?” Lovell questioned, citing a number of other deals struck by the government which he claims are questionable, including land allegedly sold for far below its value in Pointe, and an apparently dubious land swap in Friars Hill Road.

“But if this is how he intends to use taxpayers’ money, bring it on,” Lovell added.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has insisted that the price tag to extend the runway was excessive.

The prime minister has called on Lovell to provide an explanation for the cost compared to the scope of the works, a demand that has been ignored.

The loan was received from Credit Suisse bank in Brazil in 2012 to extend the airport runway by 1,000 linear feet. Browne claims the project’s cost had doubled from its initial estimate of US$46 million.

The PM says that what the former UPP government spent on the runway extension and lighting was equivalent to the cost of a brand new airport terminal.

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