FOIA requests on 10 state officials

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The main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) has filed 10 freedom of information requests, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2004, with numerous government departments and statutory bodies. According to the UPP release from Tuesday, the party believes that the Gaston Browne administration has questions to answer about numerous affairs.
In one request, sent to the permanent secretary in the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the UPP’s General Secretary Shawn Nicholas asks for the names of the companies providing services in the government’s ebook initiative. The request asks for the names of the principals and owners of the companies, as well as the tendering and bidding history of the contracts awarded to the said companies.
Another request is made to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs asking, “What were the circumstances under which Cove Head was able to effect a transfer of lands located at Villa to National Housing in a transaction dated October 28th, 2015…” Since 2016, the UPP has wanted an investigation into that land transaction.
The company, Cove Head Development Limited, directors in January 2016 were Mary Clare Hurst, Austin Smith and Hyacinth Harris, who once had a relationship with Prime Minister Gaston Browne. Whitfield Harris, financial secretary, is recipient of another request asking for details surrounding the venture capital fund which Browne announced in his 2016 budget speech, while another was sent to the general manager of the Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank (ABDB) asking for details of the same fund.
Raju Boddu, comptroller of Customs, and Sean Cenac, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance are recipients of near identical requests, asking for details about the Michael Freeland auction scandal. Meanwhile, David Matthias, the director of the Antigua and Barbuda Social Security Board (ABSSB), was sent a request for information on the transfer of the former United States (U.S.) Air Force Base property in Coolidge to the ABSSB and the value and details of the asset.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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