FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
FREE National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday blasted Prime Minister Perry Christie for failing to provide a substantial update on Baha Mar negotiations, calling his 2016/2017 Budget Communication “false hope and empty rhetoric”.
Dr Minnis said the lack of transparency was evidence that the government did not have a “true plan” to open the stalled $3.5bn Cable Beach resort, and that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) will say or do anything to get re-elected.
He noted that Wednesday’s budget communication echoed the 2012 campaign promises made by the PLP in 2012 that are still unfulfilled. “On Baha Mar the Prime Minister failed to tell us any details,” he said.
“He could not tell us what promises he made to the Chinese government or what concessions he had to make. He did not tell us a timeline for the project or if there would be any immediate jobs for Bahamians instead of the Chinese. The only thing he really said was ‘trust me, we have a plan’. That sounds awfully familiar to what he said in 2012 and look where that got us.”
Mr Christie on Wednesday announced that negotiations with the Export Import Bank of China (EXIM) and China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) over the stalled Baha Mar resort had successfully engendered a “framework agreement” to complete the project “as expeditiously as possible”.
The update was highly anticipated - amid allegations and public outcry - that a deal had been struck to provide major concessions to the resort’s general contractor China Construction America (CCA). Mr Christie had also previously touted the announcement as a major update on the embattled resort.
However, Mr Christie reminded parliamentarians that the matter was being adjudicated by the Supreme Court and, as such, only limited information could be revealed at this time. He gave no concrete resolution on the issue of payment to unsecured Bahamian creditors, only saying they would be “considered” during the re-mobilisation process, adding that negotiations were underway to agree to appropriate timelines and a schedule for completion.
Mr Christie also confirmed that CSCEC and its subsidiary, CCA, are contracted to, and will remain in place to, finish the resort.
Yesterday, Dr Minnis called Mr Christie’s update “overly optimistic”.
“The Prime Minister’s lack of transparency by hiding the details from the Bahamian people is not shocking because as the election draws nearer we all know that he and the rest of the PLP will do and say anything to get re-elected. In fact, the Prime Minister’s communication yesterday sounded a lot like their campaign plan in 2012. They are still promising to bring mortgage relief, which they have failed to do for four years.
“They promised to fix the National Health Insurance in 2012 and four years later they still promise that it is a priority but again gave no details. While patting themselves on the back for lowering the deficits they failed to take responsibility for adding more than $1.6 billion to the national debt in the past three years.
“Where is all the progress that they talk about?” he said.
Dr Minnis called for the plans to support the projects announced by the government, insisting that Bahamians had nothing tangible after four years of the PLP.
“Sadly this is what the Bahamian people have come to expect,” he said. “The people deserve better than what they have been receiving for the past four years. This PLP government cannot, and will not, change so we must change who controls the government.”