Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has pointed an accusing finger at former Sports Minister in the Tillman Thomas Government, Patrick Simmons as being one of the Government Ministers who benefited financially from the sale of land at Hope, St. Andrew’s to the government that is intended to be used for a campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Shortly after taking Office as Head of Government after the February 19th 2013 general elections, Prime Minister Mitchell claimed that a number of government officials of the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime engaged in corrupt practices of purchasing the land and then selling it over to the government at inflated prices.
Dr. Mitchell reiterated the claim during a Town Hall meeting on the first leg of his North American trip in New York.
He told the audience it is a fact that the land was bought by a company which had some persons who were ministers of government and then sold the land to the government.
He said he was speaking based on documents obtained from Cabinet.
“I am not speaking from the top of my head, it is a fact. Ask (Patrick) Simmons if he was not a member of that company, that is fact – you must ask him,” he said.
However, NDC officials who served in the government continue to deny that members of the 2008-12 government had ownership of the land.
Former Education Minister, Senator Franka Bernadine during an appearance on a radio talk show program once again gave the genesis of ownership of the land.
Sen. Bernadine told the host of the program that “Spring Valley Corporation” was the company that owned the parcel of land at Hope and had purchased the land back in 1989.
She said the company had nothing to do with the period of time of the NDC government of 2008-2013.
“So the land was not purchased anytime in the period 2008-2013 by Spring Valley Corporation to sell over to government. That is not correct information,” she remarked.
Checks made by THE NEW TODAY newspaper indicate that among the persons listed as shareholders of Spring Valley were late Prime Minister Ben Jones, former government minister Pauline Andrew, former Chief Education Officer, the late Carlyle John, and the deceased Joachim St. John, a former Building Contractor.
Sen. Bernadine charged that the information being given by Dr. Mitchell is deliberately misleading, adding that it is gravely inaccurate to say that the Tillman Thomas government quickly sold and bought back the land in any kind of shady deal to give friends a financial break.
It is the intension of UWI to upgrade its campus in Grenada that is housed at Marryshow House on H.A Blaize Street, St. George’s to a bigger institution that can offer a wide variety of courses to Grenadians.
The agreement was for government to provide the land and UWI will provide the facility.
Sen. Bernadine said it took about six months before the Mitchell government responded to UWI to try and have the campus become a reality.
Recently, Works Minister Gregory Bowen disclosed that UWI was experiencing financial difficulties in going ahead with the project.
His comment was also supported by Dr. Mitchell at the Town Hall meeting in New York.
However, Sen. Bernadine told the host of the radio talk show program she has in her possession the letters that UWI had requested from former Prime Minister Thomas to have the money for the project cleared with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and with CIDA with whom they were going to work out the financial arrangement for the project.