Opposition leader questions PM’s claims on gun project

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The political leader of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell is questioning whether the country’s prime minister is being honest when he said there was no agreement between the government and an investor on a controversial handgun assembly project.
Lovell – who is also a veteran lawyer, a former finance minister and who has been an MP for more than a decade – said this is because the letter to a government minister regarding the arrangement, paints a different picture.
He posited, “How is it you enter into these talks to the point where you are being asked to expedite and you’re being asked to move forward with the matter, and you’re quite happy to do so when there’s no leak on the radio waves so you have no concern and then once the leak takes place, you are prepared now to, I would say, breach the understanding that you would have had with the persons you had been speaking with?”
In a letter dated April 18, 2017, the investor Yida Zang asked an unnamed minister, “Please find the following for your support and assistance. Thank you…legislation for the handgun assembly plant in the Special Economic Zone.”
Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he presumes the investor was writing to Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin.
Referring to the letter, Lovell said some form of agreement had to have been made to prompt the investor to ask for specific assistance on legislation for the project.
With the PM’s announcement of the deal being scrapped, Lovell has expressed concern that there could be repercussions.
“We also have to ask the question whether there are any legal implications whereby the people of Antigua & Barbuda could be called upon to make payment in compensation for any loss that may have been incurred by the persons they were dealing with. This is a very troubling development because we simply don’t know where we are going, the government doesn’t seem to know where it is going or have any idea of what types of projects it is seeking to attract,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lovell is questioning the legitimacy of Yida International Investment Group which signed an agreement with the government over two years ago for a US $2 billion development which was supposed to have been tourism based with several resort developments as part of that package.
He issued a call to government to reveal all the details of the arrangement and plans for the government approved Special Economic Zone whose chief investor is Yida International.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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