Opposition Leader Philip Davis maintained Wednesday that the Christie administration paid off its bills to vendor Johnathan Ashe and the government’s continued payment to Ashe is for a current engagement.
“I am not aware of any balance owed to Mr. Ash following disclosures in Parliament by the Prime Minister. My information at that time was that he had been paid for all the works that he had been engaged to do.” Davis said.
On Tuesday, however, Attorney General Carl Bethel reported that Ashe was being paid for bills left on the public books by the former administration.
During the 2017 budget debate, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis revealed that Ashe was paid 46 installments that totalled nearly $8million dollars. The details surrounding the payout, he said, were shocking and added that some of the cleanup companies headed by Ashe were not registered. It was also during that budget debate the prime minister said that payments to such vendors would not continue.
“Here again, the hypocrisy of this government continues,” he said.
“Now what is also interesting is the spreadsheet that was being circulated in social media … he (Ash) would have received some five payments made after July 1 when the new budgetary cycle came into play. Why would 12 per cent value-added tax (VAT) be paid onto old bills? If he is not doing new work, if they are only paying him for what was owed to him, why would the government pay him the 12 per cent VAT,” he questioned.
Bethel categorized Ashe as a whistleblower and announced proposed legislation to safeguard individuals who seek to speak out against corruption, however, Davis disagreed.
“Suffice it to say, Mr. Ash is an accomplice to a crime, not even an accomplice, he is a principal in the commission of a crime for which he himself admits. That does not fall within the definition of a whistleblower,” he said.
“A whistleblower is someone who observes things happening, observes some immoral or illegal being conducted in an organization, and then goes to the authorities and tell. A person who engages in the criminal activity and squeals on himself is not a whistleblower.”
Davis said that the government is attempting to justify the unjustifiable and they have to be held accountable.