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Opposition Calls For Full Disclosure On Plp Links To Oil

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Darron Cash

THE Opposition has vowed to do everything in its power to block exploratory oil drilling in the Bahamas before comprehensive regulations are put in place and unless there is full disclosure of any relationship between the oil industry and senior PLPs.

And, with the government’s “rush to drill” – despite its own pre-election promises – FNM chairman Darron Cash claimed there were also worries the government was simply delivering a ‘favour to a financial backer’.

He said in a press release: “The FNM will use every means at its disposal to ensure that the first drill does not penetrate the sea bed until the appropriate legislative and regulatory frameworks are in place and until the Christie administration officials make full disclosure to the people.”

He said Prime Minister Perry Christie and Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis both delivered services to the Bahamas Petroleum Company before they came to office, while a PLP candidate was the company’s local manager.

“Full disclosure must begin with Senator Jerome Gomez, former country manager for BPC, Deputy Prime Minister Philip ‘Brave’ Davis and Prime Minister Perry Christie, attorney and consultant, respectively,” Mr Cash said.

“Before these senior public officials vote on any issue regarding oil drilling, they must disclose to the Bahamian people everything related to their dealings with any oil or related company that requires approvals from the government to do business in the Bahamas.”

He said these men must disclose:

• terms and conditions of any contracts they had with oil companies

• how much they, their firms and other related parties were paid

• the duration of their contractual relationships

Prime Minister Perry Christie “seems incapable of designing and implementing public policy in a well thought-out and co-ordinated manner,” said Cash.

“The government has announced its intention to allow exploratory oil drilling ahead of putting in place the legislative and regulatory framework necessary to ensure transparency, safety and appropriate returns to the Bahamian people,” he added.

“The Minister of the Environment has given assurances that these are coming. But we must ask, why the rush?”

The move is reminiscent of the government’s “failed attempt to get approval from the Bahamian people” for web shop gaming.

Mr Cash said: “The government was rejected in that effort because of its failure to put in place the necessary legislative and regulatory framework to ensure accountability and transparency. History appears to be repeating itself. With oil drilling the stakes of incompetence in the Christie government are higher.

“While shortcomings in the web shop business may lead to reduced government tax revenues, lack of oversight and proper enforcement in the oil drilling business would be far more catastrophic, possibly leading to significant destruction of our fishing and tourism industries.”

Mr Cash added: “Prime Minister Christie would be aware from the General Election campaign that this is an issue of tremendous concern to the Bahamian people. In view of that, the FNM would have expected a well-considered and well-structured approach from the very beginning. As of now, the government’s haphazard approach has been enormously disappointing.”

Given the national and international attention that the government knew this matter would receive, he said, the Minister of the Environment should not have announced the government’s policy reversal until the proposed legislative changes and the regulatory framework could be disclosed at the same time.

“It is not constructive to the process that the debate has begun in earnest but there is an information vacuum,” Mr Cash said.

In addition to the government’s failure to present details of the legislative and regulatory framework, he said, there was no evidence that the structure to manage this public discussion had been set up within the Ministry of the Environment, he claimed.

There is no information packet available, no statement of government principles, no answers to frequently asked or anticipated questions, no secretariat and no readily available environmental impact studies, the FNM chairman said.

“For a debate of critical national importance that requires a wealth of information, the process is getting started in a completely backwards fashion. This could have been avoided.

“This begs the question – Why the rush? Again!

“In the interest of complete transparency, the Bahamian people deserve to know whether this action by the government is another act of payback to a financial backer of the PLP?

“While we are at the start of this process, the FNM wants the Christie administration to understand that the official opposition will not be a meaningful partner in this important national debate unless and until the members of the Christie administration with past and present ties to oil interests make complete and accurate disclosures of their past financial and other dealings with the principals of BPC and any related party or entity. This disclosure is non-negotiable.”

The FNM urged the Prime Minister to be “very proactive” in managing any public discussion on the issue of oil drilling.

“He would be well advised to outline a clear plan of action and an information/education campaign so that all stakeholders can be informed and then plan appropriately to have their voices heard on this important issue.

“The Prime Minister, as head of the government owes the Bahamian people this elevated level of transparency.”

Comments

Philosopher_King 7 years, 6 months ago

Here we go again, Mr. Cash does make some valid points about having proper regulation legislation in place, but his motives are purely politically driven. We all know why the rush, after the last FNM term when a frenetic pace of deal signing with both local and foreign entities locking the Bahamian people in for to costly decades of monopolistic and one sided deals the PLP now feels compelled to push their agenda full speed ahead. After 2 one term administrations both these relic parties will continue to govern at break neck pace going forward to ensure they and their benefactors get theirs during their short 5 year stints in office. This can be very dangerous, but not entirely a bad thing for progress within the country since we culturally like to proceed with extreme caution and a let somebody else do it first attitude in a world that is moving at break neck speed around us.

For those who think for one minute the FNM’s policy on whether or not to drill for oil would be markedly different than the PLPS you my friends are sorely mistaken. For they understand that if there is oil underneath any part of the seabed controlled by us we'd better exploit it before the Cubans strike it first and expose us to same level of environmental contamination risk without us getting any of the rewards. Besides tourism and banking are continuing to reap diminishing returns for our growing population; they aren't too many Baha Mars and Atlantis' around the corner and the pressure from the larger nations’ tax authorities will continue choking financial services to death.

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SavingTheNation 7 years, 6 months ago

Tatally agree with Philosopher-King.

Maybe the FNM are happy for Cuba to reap the rewards of oil exploration while the national debt escalates out of control.

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concernedcitizen 7 years, 6 months ago

so far cuba has hit dry wells and the drilling equipment has moved on , this is about BPC on the stock board in the U/K ,,,,The biggest thing we have to worry about is Cuba opening to American tourist ,,BPC is pissed now b/c no commercial qualities of oil have been found in Cuba so their hype as well as their stock are falling ,,if there was alot of oil BP etc would be knocking down our doors ,,and why can,t the big company pay our treasury why does some office in the Isle of wright hold the leases ,,and where have they spent 50 million so far , at least we know what BPC stands for ,,,, brave phillip and christie lmao the joke is on us just like the numbers vote ,, i bought 813 and 249 this morning ,lmao

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Philosopher_King 7 years, 6 months ago

Concern, I'm not going to be as bold as you to say where oil is or isn't, because the science of detection and drilling technology has made vast improvements over the decades and will continue to do so proving many wrong. In fact same was said about Ghana's and Brazil's folly not too long ago, but low and behold both have struck significant reserves in recent times. I could careless about dry wells also, it's part of the business most of the time you hit dry wells, but if or when they hit a vain we don't want to standing around with sad faces wishing we'd pursued it. BP or any other major oil company after the Gulf rig disaster don't want to be in 1million miles of the US coast. Only the Chinese and Russians are willing to risk it right now, but they'll all come running if a big enough field is discovered. As for BPC they're speculating Wildcatters and would sell the lease rights for Billions and move on if they hit black gold.

I do agree about 5yrs after Cuba's opening up to the US the Bahamas tourism will be hit hard, there is little or nothing we can do about that now except pray it isn't soon. For every beautiful woman I'll show you a man whose tired of sleeping with her, and Cuba will be that cheaper new sexy thang to Americans when that day comes.

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concernedcitizen 7 years, 6 months ago

P ..King even when we differ on topics you debate well and give me food for thought , now if there is oil and thats a BIG if can we enact laws like Norway so we the people benefit ,therein lies the rub ,,,,,

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John 7 years, 6 months ago

darron cash was always a puppet..drill da test well and fine out if the oil there..then lets fight and finish kill each other to decide how to share it..amen

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Collin 7 years, 6 months ago

Wow, some folly commentary. Let's deal with the issue. So all of you are saying that is fine to start drilling without having any regulations and legislation in place to protect our country and citizens? For not one of you broached this topic.

The PK was not willing to make any assumptions with regard to finding oil or not; but easily made assumptions about what the FNM would have done as oppose to the PLP. I wonder if any bias in there.

Sadly, some seem incapable or stating and defending their position without 'dummying' down and personal attacks. Grow up and let us have a serious discussion about what is a serious matter.

I personally believe we should be exploring and exploiting any and all potential resources to the benefit of us Bahamians. However, it does not diminish that we should do it in a proper and reasoned manner.

You know if the Government goes ahead and rushes this and there is some disaster many of you will be right back here saying should a, would a could a.

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Philosopher_King 7 years, 6 months ago

Collin, I never said we shouldn't have the proper legislation in place or appropriate regulatory bodies to oversee BPC activities. I do know as fact that both parties will continue to be faced with growing populations and the ever diminishing returns from our traditional industries and in a desire to remain in power they will be forced to explore diversifying the economy beyond lip service. Being a former well placed FNM for almost a decade I know their psychological obsession with denying the PLP cronies any foothold on the larger economy. So I am convinced if they hadn't been out maneuvered on this oil issue in 2007 by the PLP’s signing a deal with BPC; the FNM would have rushed to give away the rights to some foreign entity if only to block the usual PLP suspects from the from taking full advantage of it. In fact the FNM did a lot of foot dragging so the initial deal would expire so they could rework it to their advantage. Unfortunately we can sit around and debate it until the cows come home for none of it will matter if Cuba finds oil before us for there will be rigs off our coast and we won't control how they are operated and what safety standards are being observed on them.

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