Castries South MP Ernest Hilaire has hit back at Castries Mayor, Peterson Francis, in a war of words over money management at the Castries Constituency Council (CCC).
Hilaire fired the first salvo recently when he raised questions about $6 million that were in the CCC’s coffers and said the organisation had to sell its shares in the Saint Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC).
But at a news conference this week, the Mayor explained that only a small fraction, 0.83 percent, of the council’s 16.30 shares in the power company had been sold.
Francis told reporters that the CCC did not sell the shares because it was in a financial bind, but because of a government policy decision.
He disclosed that Hilaire has been sent written invitations every month to attend statutory meetings of the CCC and sent minutes of the meetings, but has not attended or even acknowledged receipt of the invitations.
Hilaire responded Tuesday by expressing the view that the Castries Mayor is a real loose cannon.
The opposition MP declared that as a parliamentarian, he is not required to attend meetings of the CCC.
“If the Mayor goes through the law, as a parliamentary rep I have a rep on council. He attends the meetings. I have a right as parliamentary rep to ask to attend a meeting and I have attended a meeting; but I am not required to attend a meeting,” Hilaire stated.
He disclosed that before every CCC meeting he sits with his representative, goes through the agenda and when things come up, questions the representative on matters that arise in the minutes.
“That is why I can say so much about the Castries City Council – it’s because the rep and I speak very often,” Hilaire explained.
He asserted that the Mayor has not had a meeting for almost four months, with the result that decisions are being taken and things are happening ‘in the usual style’ of no consultation with the CCC.
Hilaire, in response to a CCC statement that he was spreading lies about the CCC, promised to prepare folders for members of the media next week.
“I am going to sit down with you all and we will go through the information,” he declared.
According to Hilaire, he will reveal things that have not been made public about the CCC.
“And I have not even spoken about the sexual harassment charges at the CCC yet and I will give you all all the documents that were submitted – all the complaints and ask him what has he done about it,” he told reporters.