Submitted by DAVID ANDRE COMISSIONG
Perhaps Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Minister of Industry Donville Inniss could explain to us Barbadians how the process of having Mr Mark Maloney construct a hotel at Bay Street, St Michael would boost Barbados’ reserves of foreign exchange.
It would seem to me that Mr Maloney would be likely to use up and further deplete Barbados’ reserves of foreign exchange during the process of constructing his hotel, since most of the construction material that he would be using would be imported into Barbados and would therefore have to be purchased with our scarce foreign exchange.
Any possible foreign exchange earnings from such a project would clearly be several years down the road, if and when the hotel gets up and going and is able to attract additional foreign tourists to our Island.
Furthermore, it is factually incorrect to suggest that I, David Comissiong, have had Maloney’s project put on hold by way of a High Court injunction. Rather, what I have done is to ask a Judge of the Supreme Court of Barbados to subject the grant of permission to Maloney’s company to a process of JUDICIAL REVIEW.
The facts are as follows:-
In July 2016 Mr. Mark Maloney made a public statement asserting that he would be commencing the construction of a 15 storey Hyatt hotel in September 2016 .
I then responded to Maloney’s statement by writing to BOTH the Chief Town Planner and the Minister Responsible for Town and Country Planning (Mr Freundel Stuart) expressing consternation at Maloney’s statement, and asserting that the Law of the land demanded that Maloney’s application be subjected to a physical and social “Environmental Impact Assessment” (EIA).
Needless to say, I received no response from either the Chief Town Planner or the Minister — not even a letter of acknowledgement of receipt of my letter !
Furthermore, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart — the Minister Responsible for Town and Country Planning — ultimately went ahead and simply granted Maloney’s company permission to construct their 15 storey hotel without having the benefit of the findings of an Environmental Impact Assessment to guide and inform him in the making of his decision.
It is against this background that I decided that it had become necessary to have a Judge of the Supreme Court of Barbados examine the manner in which Mr Stuart had dealt with the application of Maloney’s company, and determine whether Stuart’s decision was lawfully made. This legal procedure is known as JUDICIAL REVIEW and it is provided for by the Administrative Justice Act, Chapter 109 B of the Laws of Barbados.
It needs to be noted that under the Laws of Barbados there is a category of construction projects that require the carrying out of an Environmental Impact Assessment “BEFORE” any permission can be granted for them to go ahead. And this is so because these projects possess the potential to do serious damage to the precious physical and social environment of our country.
It is therefore in the best interest of our country to have a Judge of the Supreme Court examine Mr Maloney’s project and its implications for the physical , social, cultural and heritage environment of Barbados, and determine whether the manner in which the Application for the project was processed by the Minister was in compliance with the standards and procedures required by the Laws of Barbados. This is what the Application for Judicial Review that I filed in the Court on the 22nd March 2017 is all about.
I also subsequently filed an Interlocutory Application requesting that the Court grant an INTERIM ORDER suspending the Grant of Permission to Maloney’s company until the Court can hear and make a decision on the JUDICIAL REVIEW application. This request for an INTERIM ORDER is in keeping with Section 72 of the Town and Country Planning Act of Barbados. However, this Interlocutory Application has not yet been dealt with by the Supreme Court of Barbados.
Furthermore, Mr Stuart, the Minister Responsible for Town and Country Planning, has indicated that he is opposing the request for an INTERIM ORDER suspending the grant of permission to Maloney’s company while the Court carries out the process of JUDICIAL REVIEW.
Thus, as of today’s date, the grant of permission to Maloney’s company still remains in effect, and, to the best of my knowledge, Maloney is continuing to do work on the Bay Street site.
Ultimately, a Supreme Court judge will review this entire matter and will determine whether the permission that was granted to Maloney’s company was lawfully or unlawfully granted. If it is determined that the permission was not lawfully granted, one would then expect the Court to quash the decision and the permission.