Hastings R. Daniel In the public interest
We had a conversation in St.Kitts recently with a politician who the last Government owed an earned obligation. The Federal government was to pay some gratuity which was long drawn out. In time that was paid. That politician and I got talking about two invoices the CCM led Administration in Nevis owes me for professional work done for them. The goodly politician abruptly and dismissively remarked that those will be paid only when government change. I left with that assurance for I had long ago abandoned the pursuit of payment through legal means.
Here is my story. In 2012 the Nevis Island Administration engaged our firm Hamoron Services Ltd to undertake certain valuation and feasibility studies. One such valuation involved the assessment of what is a fair market value for the purchase of the lands surrounding and including the Newcastle Airport. That 25-acre parcel was being used by the NASPA for the airport without payment to the owners. The Administration entered into certain loan arrangements to purchase and pay for the asset and we were asked by the Premier’s Ministry to undertake the assignment and invoice accordingly. This we did with a professional and prompt alacrity. The Premier’s ministry said that NASPA must pay the invoice. We did our work in December 2012. It so happened that the NIA was changed towards the end of January 2103. To date the NASPA has stoutly and stubbornly refused to pay.
We contacted and sent reminder invoices to the Manager of NASPA, a Mr. Oral Brandy. He said he duly received the invoice. He asked us by what authority we performed the task and for a copy of the valuation report. He even asked us for a copy of the transfer and Title to NASPA. We duly and dutifully provided same. He said that he went and obtained a copy of the cabinet minute that set out the direction and request for the work and further set out who must pay for our services. This after a full year that the work has been done. He was armed with everything.
From the outset he, a manager said this was a political matter and it has to go to the Board for authority to pay. We pointed out to him that Board does not give authority to pay that is management that pays work duly authorized and invoiced. He still continued on his political pathway and refused to pay even one red cent. Mark you he did not query the bill that it was excessive. He just said it was political and he not paying. We spoke to the NASPA Chairman about the matter. He said he was referring the matter and would await instructions. The Manager says he is friends with my brother and my brother says so too. The Manager’s brother and I are friends since 1969 when we met at CSS.
We wonder if these political players wish us to bare out buttocks to politicians to be paid work that was duly done and for which NASPA has benefitted. I know another professional, a surveyor who surveyed the land in question and to date full 3.75 years after has not been paid. We have waited 45 months for payment of work duly authorized, done and benefits accrued. We have been able to eat and drink regardless. We call all our people to see how people do set themselves up for a fall playing politics. The Chinese say that you should not say the obvious.
There is yet another episode. The Chairman of NHLDC hired our services to provide a feasibility study for a housing project at Charlestown to be presented to a friendly government for funding. This was done in September of 2012. We researched the matter and provided a 5-page report promptly and professionally. We sent our invoice as one would expect. The government changed in 2013. The Corporation made the same request as NASPA. They were presented with the same facts and found adequate evidence. They also refused to pay. They did not say that it was political like the politician at NASPA. In time we saw the Chairman and pointed out this long and arduous wait. The Chairman was realistic and honest. He let on that of a truth he had put the invoice in the out-of-order bundle and had duly forgotten. We told him that the invoice will be paid when the government change. He smiled and said we will have to wait a long time for that. We smiled too. It was all so funny and bemusing.
Today then we call everybody to witness that we have gone 45 months of waiting for the CCM-led and controlled two institutions to pay us of funds duly incurred. During that tenure we have had to make payroll and look after ourselves in a brutal economy. We have been called upon to pay corporate income tax by the same beast. We have had to account to Inland Revenue every month for VAT. We are constrained to paraphrase and say like Jeremiah of old:” is it nothing to you all ye that pass by see if there is any sorrow like unto my sorrow which this brutal CCM led SCAPA and NHLDC has inflicted on us in the reign of their fierce anger?. We shall have to await the change of government and be paid with interest. Lord haste the day.