By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis has said the FNM will “very soon” answer everyone’s questions regarding the controversial Stellar Waste to Energy letter of intent, which led to Bamboo Town MP Renward Well’s departure from the governing Progressive Liberal Party.
Despite repeated calls for Dr Minnis to state his party’s position relating to the LOI, as it is now the political home of the man at the centre of the issue, the Killarney MP had very little to say when he was pressed by The Tribune.
“The FNM will answer everyone’s questions about the LOI very soon and about our interests in it, putting the matter to rest once and for all,” he said yesterday when he was contacted.
Critics have castigated Dr Minnis saying his views on the LOI have now been relaxed since Mr Wells joined the FNM last year.
Prior to him stepping over to the other side of the political divide, Dr Minnis had repeatedly demanded Mr Wells’ resignation and for the Christie administration to fully disclose all elements related to the LOI. However, in recent weeks, Dr Minnis has skirted around questions focused on the LOI fielded from the media.
His brief comments follow recent revelations that have raised questions about whether certain government members were aware of the document before Mr Wells signed it.
Tribune Business reported nearly two weeks ago that key Christie administration figures knew in advance that the government was set to issue the LOI.
In a letter dated May 26, 2014, State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis informed a representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that the government had issued an initial LOI to Stellar Energy. The company had proposed to establish a $600 million 70-80 megawatt waste-to-energy plant that was to be located at the New Providence landfill on Tonique Williams Highway.
Mr Halkitis’ letter was dated about five weeks before Mr Wells signed the LOI with the company.
In a statement released on August 19, Mr Halkitis said Tribune Business’ report intermingled various “portions of correspondence” to “create the impression of something untoward” on his part.
He said the letter he sent to the IDB representative was “to request a meeting between Stellar Energy and representatives of the IDB.”
Nonetheless, FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest last Sunday renewed calls for the government to fully disclose details related to the LOI controversy.
He said the recent revelations prove that there are still details about the LOI that remain shielded from the public eye.
He recalled that Dr Minnis once requested a statement from Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson about the matter, but none ever came.
“There had to be more to the story than just Renward Wells,” Mr Turnquest said. “The recent revelation proves the fact that Cabinet was aware. As to details of that, I don’t know but the government has the obligation to disclose and to be clear. Dr Minnis called for an investigation into that and nothing has changed in that regard. People believe that because Wells is now an FNM something has changed, but that’s not the case. If there is wrongdoing it should be uncovered and disclosed. It’s obvious government knows more and knew more than they have said and that they have a duty to say.”
In October 2014, Prime Minister Perry Christie fired Mr Wells from his post as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works and Urban Development following months of controversy sparked by his reportedly unauthorised signature on the $600 million LOI in July 2014.
Several times since the incident became public, reference was made to a probe into the matter. The results of that investigation have not been made public, although government officials have said it was complete.
In November 2014, Mr Wells broke his silence and said he signed the LOI – without Cabinet approval – for the “good of the people.”
In January 2015, he told the House of Assembly that he signed the LOI with Stellar Waste to Energy Bahamas in order for the company “to carry out studies” free of charge to present to Cabinet.
In November 2015, Mr Wells announced in Parliament that he had quit the PLP before crossing the floor to join the Official Opposition.
Earlier this month, it was announced he had been appointed leader of opposition business in the House of Assembly after Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant resigned from the post.