Senator Joachim Henry has responded to conflict of interest questions posed by the United Workers Party (UWP) regarding his dealings as the director of the Saint Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF), a candidate of the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and the National Lotteries Authority.
The United Workers Party contended in a recent press release, that documents in the public domain showed that “there was a direct conflict of interest between the Senator, who was first the director of the SSDF, and then SLP candidate for Castries South East and the Lotteries Authority”.
The press release had called on Henry to clarify various issues, including whether he had received contracts from the Lotteries Authority whilst he was the director of the SSDF.
“I was not in the public service. I was in the statutory organisation. I continued to work as a professional and that I have no qualms about and I’m open about it. Secondly, the government has won the election, they’re in power and they have all of the files, so they can choose to say whatever they want and put out the facts after…” Henry told reporters at a SLP press conference on Tuesday, August 15.
“The National Lotteries Authority, under this new administration, award services to a quantity surveyor to value the national stadium for approximately $200,000 which they could have done for approximately $20,000. Isn’t the government in a better position to account to the people for their own actions while in government than to ask Joachim Henry questions about my participation as a quantity surveyor, practicing quantity surveying for 25 years in this country. Of course, they have the files and they can chose to put out whatever they want but they are the ones in power? They need to answer the questions, the pertinent questions relating to their accountability to the people. Their responsibility in providing information and answering questions,” Henry said.
Henry, in turn, called on government to release information about the Forestierre Housing Project.
“What is important is that I have asked certain questions through the Labour Party to the UWP government as it relates to some of the questions that have been asked, again, concerning Fresh Start, concerning the Forestierre Housing Project, that had been implemented and it was not approved while the work was going on by the DCA… The government is in a position to answer those questions,” Henry said.
With regard to other questions asked by the UWP in its press release, such as whether he [Henry] used his position as the director of the SSDF to get inside information on programmes of the Lotteries Authority and use that information to prepare a project proposal for the Lotteries Authority for which he was paid to oversee, his answer was “no.”
Furthermore, the UWP asked whether Henry used “any drawings of projects belonging to the SSDF as part of his project proposal to the National Lottery that he was paid for” he told reporters an empathic “no.”
“Absolutely not. No, no, no. The government, they do have the information. Let them put it out. As a quantity surveyor, as a professional, I was employed as the St Lucia Social Development [Fund] as the executive director. I was not employed as a quantity surveyor. I provided my services consistent with my technical expertise and everything I did was my work and I deserve to be paid for my work. I have no problem and I’m open about it,” he said.
As the UWP had inquired in its press release, Henry was asked whether he received over $200,000 in payments in advance “from the Minister’s Account to oversee Lottery projects that were never completed whilst being a candidate of the St Lucia Labour Party a few weeks before the last elections”.
Henry flatly denied this.