CASTRIES Mayor Peterson Francis is inviting Castries South Member of Parliament, Ernest Hilaire to come to the City Council where he will find “all the answers to all the questions he wants answered” instead of what he describes as badmouthing the Council and the mayor in particular.
Mayor Francis was responding to claims made by Hilaire at a town hall meeting in Castries last week that the Council had financial problems.
Francis, at a press conference yesterday, denied accusations that the Council is facing financial problems instead focusing on several weakened areas within the Council he’d met upon taking over the Office of the Mayor in August 2016.
“Every month Mr Hilaire is invited to the statutory meeting of the CCC. Not only is he being written to, he is being sent the minutes of these meeting. Mr Hilaire does not even acknowledge receipt of these invitations but he is outside there making and saying all type of things,” Francis said.
Francis spoke of unnecessary spending under the Labour Party administration that he alleged to have taken place at the Council by way of three backhoes being on the financial sheets of the Council as rentals, the basket of one being extremely damaged, employees being paid sums of money for work hardly seen, and other such claims.
According to Francis, about three months after being appointed Mayor of Castries the CCC purchased a backhoe for EC$144,000, tightened the fiscal management of the Council, purchased a garbage truck, a cement mixer, implemented a proper management structure for the Council and made several other changes to streamline the Council into an efficient working entity.
It seems that Hilaire, at his town hall meeting, may have asserted that the sale of some of the Council’s shares of Saint Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC), some time ago, as confirmation of sorts that the Council is in financial troubles.
But Mayor Francis is having none of this noting that the selling of the shares was a government policy, a strategic move on the part of the government and not as a bail out for the Council.
“We sold some of our shares in LUCELEC because that was a policy decision of the government where you find that the CCC had one director, government had one director and NIC (National Insurance Corporation) had one director on LUCELEC’s board,” Francis said, adding that all three entities sold some of their shares.
“So right now, the CCC has a director, government has a director and NIC has two directors. So, we have four directors, we are better positioned to do certain things that government has in mind,” Francis added.
“We had 16.30 percent shares in LUCELEC. We sold 0.83 – less than a percent, so we are still holding in LUCELEC 15.50 shares which is equivalent as far as shares are concerned to 3,147,952 shares in LUCELEC,” Francis asserted.
“Mr. Hilaire has made a lot of accusations and it looks like the mayor is his target,” he added, concluding with his perception that the accusations are mainly politically fueled in light of the upcoming election season.