First hearing of GPH application adjourned

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The applicants seeking leave to apply for judicial review of the deal between the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and Global Port Holdings (GPH) were unable to get their hearing in the High Court on the scheduled date, June 4.

That was due to the illness of the Civil Court judge, Rosalyn Wilkinson, who assigned to the case. Up to yesterday, no new date had been set.

The claimants are Sir George Ryan, James Spencer, and Clefrin ‘Chalky’ Colburne, who are being represented by attorney, Harold Lovell, who is also the political leader of the opposition United Progressive Party. Lovell and Colbourne confirmed the setback.

In the legal documents filed in April, the claimants contend that the government did not follow specified rules under the St. John’s Development Corporation Act, the Tenders Board Act, and the Finance Administration Act as was required before signing the deal.

They are also accusing the government of breaching the doctrine of the separation of powers due to how the deal was made, and they are arguing that this creates a constitutional issue.

The challenge comes several months after the government announced the signing of a memorandum of agreement with GPH for 30 years, to invest over US $80 million to further develop the St. John’s Harbour – which includes the cruise ship docking facilities at Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay.

Since the deal was made public, the government has been accused of a lack of transparency and failure to consult and communicate with stakeholders.
Opposition groups who have been protesting in the city, have argued that the agreement fails to consider the job security of some in the cruise sector, even though GPH officials maintain that no jobs will be lost.
The government also continues to insist that the deal is in the best interests of the country and has since made two amendments to areas that were of concern to those opposing the deal.

The changes include reducing to 10 years the initial 30-year exclusive concession agreement for GPH to conduct cruise port operations in Antigua, and the other amendment allows for Antiguans and Barbudans to purchase shares in GPH.

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