OFFICIAL Opposition Leader Philip 'Brave' Davis. (File photo)
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
AS he accused the Minnis administration of "deceiving" Bahamians regarding the $5.5bn Oban Energies oil refinery and storage facility proposed for Grand Bahama, Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip "Brave" Davis called for the "bad deal" to be cancelled.
He further accused Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis of misleading Parliament and Bahamians when he announced on February 14 that he was to sign the heads of agreement with Oban's former non-executive chairman Peter Krieger.
Confronted with questions about the deal last week, Dr Minnis insisted he was "upright" and "honest" in publicly addressing concerns about the project, which has faced immense push back.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr Davis said: "The PM's actions rank of political payback to his FNM cronies and special interest groups. We believe that the PM misled Parliament and the Bahamian people.
"We already know the FNM lied during the campaign and it seems that they are lying now during governing. We are asking for the deal to be cancelled. We are asking for the PM to come clean on the details surrounding this bad deal because one thing we know we know this, that no lie lasts forever and the truth with eventually surface because truth will always trump a lie."
Mr Davis said concerns still linger about the project as the prime minister continues to "duck" questions.
"The financing arrangements, the environmental impact assessment, the economic feasibility of such a project given the glut of refineries in the market (are issues that remain). The prime minister also claimed that the Oban principal signed the heads of agreement - get this now on Saturday, February 10, such a significant project being signed on a Saturday morning or on a Saturday?
"You know, the prime minister clearly misled Parliament when he announced on February 14 that he was to sign a heads of agreement on February 19. Or did he mislead Parliament again when he announced knowing full well as he said that Satpal Dhunna (Oban president) had already signed the heads of agreement on February 10, but laid a heads of agreement on the table of Parliament for the records of the House - a heads of agreement that is dated February 19 not February 10.
"And when he is talking about this document being signed on February 10 explaining away and indicated that Peter Krieger may have stepped away from the company, he, during the course of that communication, asserted that there were missteps. Clearly to me these are not missteps. In fact if he is able to identify the steps that he said he missed, then we might be able to more intelligently speak to it. But on the face of what we know it is clearly not missteps, not only $5.5bn investment and the future of Grand Bahama's ecosystem being at stake in my view these are deliberate actions taken to deceive the Bahamian people."
Amid backlash over the project, there have been calls for Dr Minnis' resignation from Progressive Liberal Party Deputy Leader Chester Cooper, who also alleged the prime minister misled Parliament on the matter.
However, Dr Minnis has maintained he told the truth, adding that the only element he did not reveal was that the heads of agreement signing for the project at his office was ceremonial.
The prime minister has also been harshly criticised for telling reporters last week he did not know when the environmental impact assessment for the development will begin.
The Bahamas Environmental Science and Technology Commission (BEST), which provides guidelines for EIAs for developments in the Bahamas, is under Dr Minnis' portfolio.
During an event last week, The Tribune also asked Dr Minnis why he did not not reveal the deal involved 690 acres of Crown land, which would be leased from the government to build Oban's refinery. This element of the deal was revealed by Mr Dhunna to the media two weeks ago.
"I was very specific when I addressed the Bahamian people and I was upright and honest with them and now the environmentalists are dealing with the issue. The heads of agreement speaks for itself," Dr Minnis said recently.