Govt must make good on its Baha Mar obligation
Published: Aug 27, 2013
The deputy prime minister and minister of public works failed miserably recently in his attempt to assure the Bahamian public that he understands anything about national infrastructure development.
He was seeking to discredit concerns expressed by former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham in a letter to the media in which he highlighted the government’s delay in complying with its obligation to pay Baha Mar for certain agreed infrastructure works connected to the diversion of West Bay Street to accommodate the $2.6 billion Baha Mar Resort development.
The deputy prime minister’s intention is to suggest that the cost attributed to the construction of one mile of roadway is astronomical and hence, in an effort to protect the public purse, the Christie Government is reviewing the sum submitted by Baha Mar for compensation with a view to paying less than provided for in the agreement.
The deputy prime minister clearly believes that building the diverted West Bay Street and the Corridor 7 connector road was a matter of clearing some bush, leveling the ground and throwing some asphalt on top.
The Bahamian motoring public understands that the diverted new West Bay Street involved a great deal more than that. It involved the movement of water, electricity, cable and sewerage lines from along old West Bay Street. It required the installation of new water, electricity, cable and sewerage lines along the new diverted roadway which is intersected with five beautifully landscaped roundabouts.
It also involved the creation of new median parks along the new diverted West Bay Street – publicly owned parks with mature trees and a wide variety of flowering plants that are much improved and better maintained by Baha Mar when compared to what existed along the original median.
The excerpt from the agreement quoted in Mr. Ingraham’s letter reads as follows: “…the new diverted West Bay Street and public infrastructure relating or appurtenant thereto to mutually agreed specifications and to a standard which would complement the project in a manner consistent with the project plan for the project, complete with suitable landscaping, lighting, signage, drainage, footpaths, jogging trails…”
The DPM (and the prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs who also felt obliged to comment) need to recognize that the public is not fooled by their pretense at financial responsibility.
To convince anyone that they have a single fiscally responsible bone among them, they would have to: 1. Stop wasting the public’s money on unnecessary foreign jaunts; 2. Stop hiring political cronies at astronomical cost to the public purse; 3. Account for the expenditure of the billion dollars borrowed in the last year, with no obvious public benefit; 4. Stop holding wasteful referenda whether on gambling, oil exploration or whatever they dream up and 5. Stop appointing useless commissions and committees to review and consider issues that they ought to determine as the elected government of the country.
In the meantime, the government needs to act to protect our name amongst investors and international financiers of investments and make good on their obligation to pay Baha Mar.
— Cecile Evans