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PM answers question on cost of Ottley Hall Inquiry

PM answers question on cost of Ottley Hall Inquiry

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The Ottley Hall Commission of Inquiry has cost this country almost $5 million to date.{{more}}

In a written response to a question submitted by Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Ralph Gonsalves said that between April 2003 and now, $4,909,486.70 has been spent.

Of this amount, 83 per cent or $4,080,486 was spent on consultancy fees, while $514,000 was paid out in salaries. Accommodation and Travel accounted for $210,000 and $105,000, respectively.

According to an official in the Ministry of Finance, consultancy fees include the fees paid to lone Commissioner Justice Ephraim Georges, as well as the lawyers and investigators hired by the Commission of Inquiry.

Since the inauguration of the Ottley Hall Commission of Inquiry on 28th April 2003, there have been several delays in the sitting of the Commission due largely to legal challenges in the courts up to the level of the Privy Council. One such challenge is presently before the Court of Appeal.

As a result, successive extensions of the appointment of retired High Court Judge Ephraim Georges as Commissioner have been granted, the most recent of these being on July 27th, 2009. Georges now has until January 31, 2010, to submit his final report.

The Ottley Hall Marina and Shipyard project has for almost 15 years been synonymous with controversy, fraud and debt in this country. However, in 2007, Government was successful in obtaining debt relief in excess of EC$180, which the prime minister said was partly because of the ongoing enquiry to determine just what went wrong with that project.

Between 1999 and the first quarter of 2001, over EC$19 million in interest payments were made for the Ottley Hall project.

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