Martin to stay at APUA helm as Gaston yields to Cabinet

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has backed down from his call for the sacking of the General Manager of Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) Esworth Martin, who Browne accused of breaching a Cabinet decision by contracting a private company to manage an APUA desalination plant.

On Wednesday, during a Cabinet meeting, Browne’s colleagues agreed that there was no need to punish or fire Martin since his action had been undertaken in the interest of the nation.

In acquiescing to the decision, PM Browne told OBSERVER media last evening, that: “I had no opportunity to participate in the Cabinet meeting by phone or otherwise. I have stated my position but ultimately, I am guided by the consensus of the Cabinet and the Board of APUA.”

The prime minister said that when his Cabinet colleagues met on Wednesday and decided against terminating the APUA general manager, he was not present at that session since he was in St Kitts chairing a sub-regional meeting.

Browne, who was firm in his position on Tuesday, had said that Martin should go because he went against the October 18, 2016 decision of Cabinet which stated that APUA would have taken over the management of the Sembcorp plant when the Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) arrangement was fulfilled in January, 2017.

Martin and the APUA management team, however, contracted NS Management Ltd, owned by businessman Tomas Hellier. When the APUA Board of Commissioners learned of the arrangement, it sought to get it reversed.

On Monday, after weeks of talks, it ordered Hellier to vacate the premises within 72 hours – since then APUA has been managing the plant which provides most of the nation’s water supply.

More in today’s Daily Observer.

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