The recently repossessed Progressive National Party (PNP) headquarters building in Providenciales
In a recent press statement, Premier Rufus Ewing has acknowledged that the land on which the Progressive National Party (PNP) headquarters building was constructed belongs to the Crown.
However, shortly after beginning his statement, it became obvious that the premier was angered by what he says he nevertheless expected – the loss of the right to use an illegally obtained site.
Ewing claims that Attorney General Huw Shepheard is behind the changing of the locks to the building and that the AG did this because Ewing protested against Shepheard’s employment contract renewal.
However, the acting AG, Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, who Ewing said should replace Shepheard, was the spokesperson for the takeover and return of the premises to the Crown land bank via the lock changes. She clearly articulated the rule of law and the court’s decision, now 45 days old, which permitted the takeover by the Crown.
Further, the governor’s representatives had previously requested keys to the property from the PNP and they had refused to give them up. Ewing now says he wants the new keys given to his party. The premier claims the premises are a “social-political icon”, which must be preserved for the use of his party, which now leads the government.
The premier claims the PNP has made offers to purchase the land but it has not had a response. However, the governor and AG’s Office have indicated they expect to receive the market value for the property, which is some $1.1 million.
Meanwhile, PNP activist Devon Williams has released an open request to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). According to Williams, the PNP needs to be compensated for the takeover.
However, the PNP has used the headquarters without ever paying anything for the land or even applying for a lease. This building was the operations center used to campaign for election in the November 2012 polls, which brought Ewing to power despite his not winning the majority of the “at large” popular votes.
Reportedly, the PNP has not paid the contractor for the construction of the building and years ago it was revealed that the furnishings used in the building were taken over by the interim government after it was revealed they had been purchased using public funds.