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Breaking News:

Hanna-Martin hits at D’Aguilar’s NAD claims

SLOAN SMITH 
Guardian Staff Reporter
sloan@nasguard.com

Published: Jun 19, 2017

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Former Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin yesterday denied allegations made by Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar that the Christie administration influenced the write off of a $1.2 million debt of a “politically connected” tenant of the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA).

“Any possible or remote suggestion or hinted implication that the prior minister sought to exercise influence in this decision-making is not true,” said Hanna-Martin, in a statement to the press.

During his contribution to the 2016/2017 budget debate, D’Aguilar said that the entire board of the Nassau Airport Development (NAD) Company was summarily dismissed after it was revealed that it wrote off a third of a $3.3 million debt a politically connected tenant of the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) accumulated after failing to pay rent over a five-year period.

D’Aguilar said the tenant operates five stores at the airport.

The debt was written off on the condition that the tenant pay the remainder of the balance over time and give up one of the stores, he added.

In a statement of his own to the press, former NAD Board Chairman Anthony McKinney denied that the board was fired and revealed correspondence in which he resigned from the board twice after the general election.

After McKinney’s initial resignation on May 16, Frankie Campbell, the transport minister, asked him to stay on until Cabinet made a decision on the way forward.

McKinney said most, if not all, of the other members also submitted their resignations.

He revealed that when the board was appointed in 2012, PatMor Limited’s rent was already in arrears in the amount of $1.2 million and there was a dispute with NAD, as the tenant was being charged a rate “significantly higher” than the rate charged to all of the other tenants.

McKinney revealed that the write off of PatMor Limited’s debt came after an independent auditor’s recommendations and the involvement of NAD’s lawyers, Higgs & Johnson.

The former chairman also denied that the board received directives or instructions from politicians on the matter.

Additionally, he said, “It is egregiously unfair to call into issue the character and integrity of the board members who gave five years of faithful service to the country.”

In her statement, Hanna-Martin said, “It is very unfortunate that the new minister of aviation has sought to cast aspersion on the former NAD board while speaking in the House of Assembly, a place where members of that board cannot defend themselves.

“The new minister alleged impropriety on the part of the board which comprises respected Bahamian men and women from various professional backgrounds, and in respect of which each has distinguished him or herself.

“That board also includes the CEO of Vantage Group of Companies.

“This is very regrettable.

“The minister should be aware that the matter involving this tenant is very complex and it is perhaps for this reason boards appointed by successive administrations, both PLP and FNM, have worked to regularize the account.”

Hanna-Martin said she is concerned that D’Aguilar did not apprise himself of these facts before he made such an “unfortunate assessment” of the board.

She insisted that the minister provide proof of the allegations he made in Parliament.

“The minister further seems to suggest that the tenant’s holding of multiple leases is evidence of some irregular dealings, when he ought to know that there are other tenants who also have multiple leases, but the minister apparently does not deem this strange,” she said.

“It seems that what he believes to be the political stripes of this particular tenant creates a problem in his perception in this regard.

“This is also very worrisome.”

She added that the minister responsible for aviation has no responsibility for or jurisdiction in the day-to-day activities of the Airport Authority board and the NAD board.

 


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