Can govt be trusted over BEC deal?


Tribune Staff Reporter


WITH details of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s restructuring shrouded in secrecy, Bahamians should not trust the government to finalise a “good deal”, the Democratic National Alliance leader said yesterday.

Branville McCartney insisted that any forthcoming agreements with prospective companies to offer power generation and the takeover of transmission, distribution and billing of BEC would likely be offered to PLP cronies.

He was speaking at a press conference to review the government’s progress as it gears up to celebrate its second anniversary in office.

It was the May 7, 2012, general election that saw the Free National Movement defeated by the Progressive Liberal Party in a landslide victory. While the DNA won no seats in the House of Assembly they secured more than 13,000 votes. The PLP received 75,806 votes and the FNM secured 65,518 - a majority of 10,288.

“Knowing the PLP,” Mr McCartney said, “I have no doubt that they are looking to see what’s in it for them and their cronies. I have no doubt whatsoever.

“We cannot trust the PLP. They have been quiet on major issues (and) they have been quiet on most issues. You can’t trust them to do what is good for the country regarding the sale of BEC. If you recall prior to them losing the 2007 election they tried to sell BTC on credit to themselves (the) Blue Water (deal).

“We cannot trust the PLP, plain and simple. They have proven it over and repeatedly. That’s the DNA’s take on that. They have given us proposed timelines of when they were going to get back to the public on the sale. They have not lived up to that.”

DNA Chairman Andrew Wilson suggested that if the government does follow through with restructuring BEC, Bahamians would have to wait years before the true details are revealed.

“According to recent media reports on the matter,” he said, “the government has concluded negotiations with up to five companies, none of which are owned by Bahamians, but has continued to dodge requests for details. Can we trust that whatever deal is struck with the potential front runner in the sale can serve the public’s interest? Should Bahamians be forced to wait years before the true details of this deal are revealed? The DNA says ‘no’.”

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis, who has purview of BEC, said Cabinet ministers were deliberating over recommendations made to the government by KPMG. The company was contracted by the Christie administration to handle the vetting process of bidders and advise on suitable companies. At the time, Mr Davis said the Cabinet was discussing “five or six” companies.

Prime Minister Perry Christie last August announced his administration’s intentions to reform BEC’s structure. The government’s self-imposed deadline was that, by the end of 2013, a deal would be signed with companies.

Mr Davis had told reporters there has been considerable delay because the government did not want to rush a decision, adding it still has all options at its disposal, including not choosing any of the bidders, restructuring on its own or leaving the corporation in its current state.


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