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'I had many concerns' with Skelton-Cline's contracts– Hon Flax-Charles

'I had many concerns' with Skelton-Cline's contracts– Hon Flax-Charles

Junior Minister for Trade, Economic Development, Agriculture and Fisheries Hon Shereen D. Flax-Charles (AL) has revealed that right at the start of the Government consultancy contracts with Claude O. Skelton-Cline, she had concerns with the arrangement.

During the Third Sitting of the Fifth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly in Road Town on February 21, 2023, Hon Flax-Charles, during the debate on a Report from the Auditor General, said the AG Report speaks for itself, with three things standing out: value for money, transparency, and honesty.

The AG, Ms Sonia M. Webster, concluded that in three consultancy contracts given to Skelton-Cline, he was paid exorbitantly and that his contribution to the success of the initiatives surrounding the contracts was marginal at best.

However, Hon Flax-Charles said while she is disturbed by some of the findings in the report, she had concerns and questions over the contracts from the beginning and that she was even visited by Mr Skelton-Cline in her office.

"The contracts that were issued, Madam Speaker, I had many concerns. I asked questions. I asked to see the contract. I was visited by Mr Cline at my office and I was shown a contract, Madam Speaker, that was not signed."

While the minister said there were opportunities to better discuss the contracts, government backbenchers or the opposition hardly has a say.

Examine current Cabinet system- Hon Flax-Charles

While the Junior Minister said there were opportunities to better discuss the contracts, she said: “The fact that the backbenchers or the Opposition, really and truly don’t have a say when decisions are made is concerning to me and will continue to be."

Hon Flax-Charles continued, "While I am not a member of Cabinet and others are not, I believe, Madam Speaker, that is a major challenge for us as a country where five persons make up the Cabinet and you only need three to say yes,” she said.

The ex-Virgin Islands Party (VIP) member questioned if the current system reflects real democracy and urged legislators to look at the Cabinet system and think about changing it for the future.


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