By NICO SCAVELLA
LEADER of the Democratic National Alliance Branville McCartney yesterday criticised the Christie administration for what he called a “dereliction of duty” regarding a number of “outstanding issues” in the country, specifically the issue of Parliamentary Secretary Renward Wells’ signing of a $650m letter of intent with Stellar Waste-to-Energy last month.
During a press conference, Mr McCartney addressed his party’s issues with shanty towns, value added tax (VAT) and crime in the country. However, he spent most of his time lamenting the details surrounding the letter of intent (LOI), calling the government’s handling of the situation a “blatantly apparent lack of transparency and accountability right before our eyes”.
“... And that demands resignation across the board,” he said. “Not only as parliamentary secretary, but as a member of the House of Assembly.”
Last month, news broke that Mr Wells had signed a $650m LOI with Stellar Waste-to-Energy to build a waste to energy facility at the New Providence landfill. Both Minister of Works Philip “Brave” Davis and Minister of the Environment Kenred Dorsett have expressed surprise over the signing. This led observers to suggest Mr Wells acted without proper authority.
This subsequently resulted in Prime Minister Perry Christie asking Mr Wells to resign, The Nassau Guardian reported.
However, to date Mr Wells has not resigned.
Mr McCartney added yesterday that in view of the controversy, he has no faith in them implementing VAT in 2015.
“We have a prime minister who says he knows nothing about this $600m plus contract when he is the minister of finance, he is the minister responsible for investments, he is in charge of the investment board,” he said. “Is he the person that we must now feel confident in bringing a new tax regime such as VAT to this country?
“This prime minister who knows nothing about everything; can we trust him and rely on him to bring a new tax regime to this country? I think not. If he can’t oversee his people – he doesn’t know about anything. If he doesn’t know this deal, why are we to trust him regarding value added tax? He has shown that he is incapable. I don’t trust him. I’m afraid.”
When asked if he was against VAT he said: “Absolutely.” He added that the DNA is going to “oppose VAT left, right and centre.” As it stands VAT is set to be introduced at a rate of 7.5 per cent in January of next year.
The other two issues, dealing with the large number of shanty towns and high levels of crime, Mr McCartney classified as unfulfilled promises.
“Every Tuesday while the prime minister is in this country, he meets with the minister of immigration, the minister of environment and the minister of national security, and he is surprised that nothing has happened regarding the shanty towns?” he said, referring to a statement Mr Christie made last week.
“What’s going on with this government? Do they talk to each other? I mean the (Cabinet) room isn’t that big. I find it amazing that he would be surprised, and true to form this government has not prosecuted the land owners of the shanty towns as promised over a year ago.
Last Friday, Mr Christie told The Tribune he was disappointed that a programme had not yet been established to effectively address the issue of shanty towns.
Mr McCartney also spoke about the recent spate of violence in New Providence and faulted the government for not properly getting crime under control.
“We have had a bloody weekend,” he said. “We are asking this government about their operation Safe Bahamas plans. What about their Urban Renewal 2.0? Where are we on that? The government is as quiet as a mouse, and although they have a number of other issues going on that try and sidetrack the real issues of this country, crime is its number one issue. Two and a half years of coming to office we continue to be an unsafe country.
“This is a terrible government. This government has not done anything of substance what they have promised in the last election, so much so where our brothers to the north (USA) even got involved and said they haven’t lived up to their campaign promises.”
Four people were killed over a period of 12 hours between Sunday night and Monday morning in shootings that left two women and two men dead and another man in critical condition, raising the murder toll to 76.
As for Mr Wells’ situation, Mr Christie has said that he has ordered an investigation into the details surrounding the former’s signing of the LOI. He said that the outcome of that investigation would “go to the root of Mr Wells’ existence as a part of government”.