By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Progressive Liberal Party's motion for a select committee to investigate matters relating to Oban Energies was defeated yesterday when Free National Movement (FNM) parliamentarians in the House of Assembly unanimously voted against it.
Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin and Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper scolded the government while arguing why the committee should be established.
Mrs Hanna Martin explained how useful a previous parliamentary committee was in benefiting Bahamians by causing changes to government policies.
"This member was privileged to chair a Select Committee several years ago appointed by this Parliament to look into and inquire into the allegations of sexual misconduct of a teacher in Eight Mile Rock who was accused of sexually abusing several male students at that school," she said.
"The committee, comprising members from both sides of the political divide, submitted a report to this Parliament and as a consequence of its findings and recommendations, there was a change in the policies and procedures in the Ministry of Education; new policies were initiated to protect children in such circumstances and avenues for reporting sexual misconduct. The teacher on the other hand, a sexual predator in our public schools, was convicted and is very likely poised to be deported from our country, if not already deported."
The opposition had hoped to determine if by tabling the Oban Energies Heads of Agreement in Parliament Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis intentionally misled the House.
"This motion comes in response to the very many concerns, apparent irregularities, the unanswered questions and inconsistencies, and concerns nationally about what has now come to be called the Oban deal," Mrs Hanna Martin said.
"These concerns are underscored by the peculiar provisions of the Heads of Agreement, the incentives and concessions, including a commitment to come to this Parliament and change the terms of the Industry Encouragement Act especially for Oban, a first since the law's enactment in 1970 (almost 50 years ago) and the grant of what amounts to a 99-year lease of hundreds of acres of Crown Land including a right of first refusal for an additional 500 acres for no apparent good reason."
Mrs Hanna Martin was critical of the government for not disclosing the exact location of the land granted to Oban Energies for its $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage plant.
She recounted the most controversial details of the saga, including the history of former executive Peter Kriegar and the "ceremonial signing" in February when Mr Krieger signed the name of President Satpal Dhunna on the agreement, not his own.
She questioned whether Oban Energies has the money to see the project through.
State Minister for Legal Affairs Elsworth Johnson, addressing the issue on behalf of the government, noted Dr Minnis has already established a cabinet sub-committee to review the deal.
"The subcommittee has had several meetings with principals of Oban and as a member of the sub-committee I can report that progress is being made," he said.
"These meetings were conducted in New Providence, Freeport and at the site in Grand Bahama. It is the position of the government that the appointment of a select committee of this honorable House of Assembly at this stage would be premature. Accordingly, the government does not support the appointment of a select committee with reference to the Heads of Agreement between the government and Oban Energies LLC."