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Posted: Wednesday 8 June, 2022 at 8:18 AM

Grant debunks Phipp’s comments on Board members’ termination

By: Staff Reporter,

    …Claims she lied and was misguided


    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - FORMER Minister of Government, Lindsay Grant did not take lightly the claims made by Minister Wendy Phipps, which she publicly spoke about the termination of members of the Boards of the Urban Development Corporation and the St. Christopher Air and Seaports Authority, and the state of the two agencies.
    Grant, in a national address, claimed that the Minister “deliberately lied” and “misrepresented” when she spoke last week at a post Cabinet press briefing, where a number of disclosures were made including opening an audit due to discrepancies found within the books and minutes at the two Government agencies.


    “She also used the occasion to cast aspersions against the hard-working private citizens who gave their time and expertise to serve on the Board of Directors and attempted to malign the professional reputation of senior management of SCASPA. Her attack on their integrity was uncalled for and misguided,” Grant told the nation.
    Minister Phipps cited, among other things, financial irregularities, overpayment of new staff hires and credit card limits higher than the Ministry of Finance’s Financial Secretary as matters of concern, which prompted Grant to take to the airwaves on Saturday (Jun. 4).


    “Since her address, many have questioned her motives and have expressed shock and horror that someone whom they thought possessed the right morals and ethics, allowed herself to be used by her boss,” noted Grant.


    While questioning the motives, Grant directly addressed the findings that Phipps provided to the nation, explaining that the pandemic had a major impact on the financial position of the statutory agency.


    “Here in St. Kitts and Nevis, our nation was terrified about the increase in COVID-19 cases, and in 2021 the death toll started…SCASPA, just like the Federal Government and private companies, had to find ways to mitigate the financial challenges that resulted from the closure of our air and sea ports.
    “Despite these difficult times, not one cent was given to SCASPA from the Federal Government to cover its monthly operating expenses. SCASPA had to fend for itself through prudent cash flow management,” Grant explained.


    He reminded that during the lockdown period, there were no vessels coming to the Federation, conversely air traffic was also grounded, which caused a ripple effect on the agency.
    “How, therefore, can Ms. Phipps, a former Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, and someone who should have a sharper understanding of business, how could she allow her boss to send her before the microphones to mislead the public?” Grant questioned.


    He added: “However, in 2020, the first year of COVID-19, the revenues dropped by $28M to EC$32M. And why did they drop? Because no ships were coming, and the planes were canceled and St. Kitts & Nevis was closed to the world.
    “Then in 2021, the second year of COVID-19, revenues dropped further to EC$26.3M. But in addition, the expenses also fell by approximately 13 percent, compared to 2020 to $51.3M due to the cost cutting measures implemented.


    “For further clarity, cruise passenger arrivals fell from a high in 2019 of 1,045,842 to 263,426 in 2020 and then 101,845 in 2021.”


    Despite the challenges, the agency did not terminate any of its staff, instead staff allowances were reduced or discontinued, and Management and Board took a 10% pay cut, stated Grant.


    “All this sacrifice was being done by SCASPA, at a time when private companies were permanently closing down, and hundreds of people were being made redundant,” added Grant.


    He also explained that many of those employees were working during the COVID-19 period while several others had contracted the virus.


    Meanwhile, Grant called on Phipps to apologise to the management and staff of SCASPA. 


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