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Post Office deal ‘doesn’t add up’

The Town Centre Mall.

The Town Centre Mall.

photo

PLP leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

OFFICIAL Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis said while the former Christie administration considered Town Centre Mall for the General Post Office’s relocation, the party stepped away from the decision as the costs associated with the move would not have been a prudent expenditure of public funds.

For this reason, he said the Christie administration controversially decided to purchase the Independence Drive Shopping Centre, viewing it as an acquisition that would have resulted in the government owning the property. It would ultimately cost less than retrofitting the mall, renovating it and then renting it, according to Mr Davis.

He further questioned what the government calls a “concessionary” $12 per square foot rate at which it will rent Town Centre Mall, considering the building has been beleaguered for years with a large vacancy.

Mr Davis said it is hard to see it as a concession when the owners weren’t previously making money for the empty portions of the mall. He said it is likely this is not the true cost to be paid.

Asked whether Cabinet minister Brent Symonette, part-owner of the mall, should resign over the issue, Mr Davis said if anything the entire government needed to step down because it was a decision of the Cabinet. He attributed this decision to the government’s “arrogance and hypocrisy”.

The House of Assembly will debate a resolution to rent portions of Town Centre Mall this week.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis defended leasing the mall, insisting the process will be transparent.

“It’s not a question of whether he (Mr Symonette) should resign over this, it’s a question of whether it’s the right decision being taken by them because obviously it’s a decision of the Cabinet,” the Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP said when he was contacted. “If anything, the government should resign over the whole bloody thing as opposed to him because obviously this is something they have all agreed upon.

“First of all, he needs to get permission from the House to be able to enter into it then otherwise he has to resign. If he doesn’t get the permission of the House to do it then he should resign, it’s automatic exemption in article 49 of the Constitution.”

Regarding the PLP’s strategy for the General Post Office, Mr Davis said: “Yes we considered that, but when we were considering it, Brent Symonette was a retired politician. Don’t forget he retired from politics. He was a retired politician, not a member of Parliament and not in the Cabinet.

“When we looked at the cost of entering into an arrangement to relocate the post office there, which included having to retrofit the entire property to suit the post office, that cost when you add that to what rentals you had to pay, would not have been a prudent expenditure of public funds. That’s why we looked at alternate accommodations and we came up with the shopping centre because at the end of the day we would have owned that property. We would have renovated it and it would have cost us less than retrofitting Town Centre mall, renovating it and renting it.”

As for the true cost of the renting the property, Mr Davis said he believed there would be other fees associated with the TCM rental.

“Is there any other cost associated with it, like the cam charges (common area maintenance)? What other costs are there? You might find another figure because we don’t have all the numbers, we don’t know how much to renovate or whether the government is responsible for the air-conditioning, the common areas, security for the building etc. So there are a lot of questions they have to answer.”

His remarks came days after former PLP member of Parliament George Smith said any sitting Cabinet minister who wants to enjoy the benefits of receiving state contracts should resign his seat to avoid conflicts of interest.

Mr Smith told The Tribune last week the government’s resolution, in his view, was a “misuse of the government’s majority at Parliament and an attempt to make something morally acceptable when it is not.”

According to the resolution, the government intends to rent portions of the mall at $12 per sq ft.

Town Centre Mall, at 203,000 sq ft, was once listed for sale at a cost of $16m.

Comments

licks2 5 years, 7 months ago

Who is writing for this man. . .lost politician!! He was the MOW when his government was going to do the same deal. . .until they played stink PLP politics and give it to one of their own ministers and IL. . .

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 7 months ago

You know someone could recite your words about Minnis. Because it looks like he move from Phil's to give it to his own minister

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licks2 5 years, 7 months ago

True if yinna did not have the same place as "tier one" for the project!! Actually it speaks for better judgment in giving it to who has the better product!! I suggest that you go and read the Constitution about government workers doing business with government. . .it is not forbidden. . .strict protocol for doing so. . .but not forbidden!

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Clamshell 5 years, 7 months ago

I wish The Tribune would quit calling this guy “Brave”. They don’t use nicknames for anybody else — not that they could print them. There is nothing “brave” about this clown and there never has been.

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 7 months ago

Arrogant, bold, entitled, self important, serpentine, poker faced... typical PLP material.

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Clamshell 5 years, 7 months ago

Mr. Davis also forgot to mention that part of his party’s solution was to simply quit delivering the mail.

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TalRussell 5 years, 7 months ago

Comrades Minnis and Brent, done slippery thin ice with Queen's woman's looking out in her royal telescope's from atop Mount Fitzwillaim.
The "Peoples" Her Excellency Marguerite,.done has mindset pull plug these two men's projected last 5-years governing mandate........... So, best Minnis and KP, does perform risk assessment before pushing ahead anything to do with Her Majesty's Delivery Royal Mail this side 45 years after we declaration independence. To mess with delivery we Queen's Mails might just be what Her Excellency Marguerite been waiting for.

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TigerB 5 years, 7 months ago

Not sure Brave dem want a post office or not? I watched the workers who work in the post office, they the ones who need relief...

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sealice 5 years, 7 months ago

and you still haven't told anyone how you added up all the PLP BS we have had to deal with.... literally FOREVER... how about you answer those questions and they we can get to these fools....

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Dawes 5 years, 7 months ago

Why does the tribune not tell us what the cost of each deal would be. They keep saying with Town Centre Mall it is $12 per foot, is this per month or year? Then they say town centre Mall is 203,000 square foot, but i assume that includes Cost rite, Furniture plus and other stores. If thats the case then how much are they renting? Finally how much was the old City market meant to cost in the long run. Once those two figures are out then we can see which makes a better decision. But as usual we the taxpayers will not be told this.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 7 months ago

City Market should not be an option. The residents protested against it citing the traffic problems it would cause. It must be a sign that every single building they say is acceptable is old dilapidated and hasn't earned any significant income in decades...well except Phil's

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John 5 years, 7 months ago

The residents' protests were politically driven. The site is approved as a commercial shopping center, which draws more traffic than the post office would. So those "residents" will be at a greater (traffic) disadvantage if the site reverted back to a shopping center with a food store.

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licks2 5 years, 7 months ago

That shopping center has been abandoned for about 30 years ago. . .the bar was the last to leave and that was about 15 years or so ago!! Follow the money. . .I think it is safe to say that ANYTHING. . .I MEAN ANYTHING THE PLP IS INVOLVED IN (ESPECIALLY WHILE IN GOVERNMENT) IS HIGHLY SUSPECTED FOR CORRUPTION. . .PERVASIVE CORRUPTION!! This is the common and pervasive belief about the PLP. . .even those who are in the PLP. . .they are pathological and pervasive!! We would like to think that our opinion is wrong. . .but the preponderance of the evidence says we are right!!

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licks2 5 years, 7 months ago

Breath of fresh air at last. . .them some very good questions. . .then we can see who really talking foolishness!!

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geostorm 5 years, 7 months ago

Is this gentleman still relevant? Goodness, can someone from the PLP please put a muzzle over his mouth already!

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John 5 years, 7 months ago

According to social media in addition to government paying $12 a square foot for putting the post office in the mall, they will also have to pay a portion of the mall property taxes, some of its electricity and Ac cooling bills, for security officers both in the mall and in the parking lot. Also for space cleaners and maintenance workers. So if the government already purchased the property across the street why not complete it and use it rather than getting into this expensive mall deal? So will the independence property sit idle and delapidated like the Old City Markets property on Market Street? And will the Phils property the government supposedly purchased suffer the same fate?

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licks2 5 years, 7 months ago

You really need to go read some more. . .where you does get your information? The PLP Government bought the place on market street yes. . .you should see who from. . .they did the mall deal on Harold road. . .and the government een buy no building from Phil. . . government took that because of the BOB "borrow and een gatta pay a cent back" done by the PLP and FNM governments!!

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JohnDoe 5 years, 7 months ago

In a situation of potential ministerial conflict of interest the obligation and burden of transparency to demonstrate that the potentially conflicted deal is objectively superior to any other deal is, and should be, on the government. So far the FNM has not come close to discharging that obligation. Before this deal is finalized they should release into the public domain a comparison of the economics and total costs of the competing options and any other logistical or environmental factors that makes one option superior to the others. The Renward Wells and the PMs explanations are both nonsensical and irrelevant to the substance of this decision and in fact can even be deemed misleading. Mentioning $12 psf without stating the costs of improvements and who would be responsible for those costs and without stating what is or is not included in that $12 psf is, in my view, a deliberate attempt to mislead because one certainly cannot properly evaluate this deal based on that information alone.

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licks2 5 years, 7 months ago

You lie. . .you know the constitutional process when a minister is involved in a fiduciary interest in company that wishes to do business with the government!! I do think that a public showing of the comparative costing will help. . .but they don't have to according to the constitution. . .the opposition party is in the HOA. . .the interest will be placed before the parliament!!

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JohnDoe 5 years, 7 months ago

A very clumsy attempt at subterfuge and a false analogy. At issue here is an attempt by the government to justify their decision to rent from one of their fellow Cabinet Ministers. The government opened the door by initiating public discussions with respect to the comparative costs of the Phil's building and the TCM. The only person talking about the constitutional process is you. Having opened the door with respect to the public discussion about the comparative costs then they ought to provide the public with sufficient and relevant information to evaluate the deal and justify their decision.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 7 months ago

LMAO. Bahamians being openly stomped on time and time again by Minnis and the likes of the Symonette family.

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DWW 5 years, 7 months ago

Well said john doe. All of this is political positioning without a lock of real substance. I grow weary of the FNM. Campaigned on transparency when all they have done is finger point to the other side. Why don't the bahamas' politicalistas understand that the bahamian electorate don't want blame we want results in the sunshine. It really doesn't hurt anything or anyone to provide full details of all proposals and explain why one was chosen over the other. UNLESS OF COURSE THERE REALLY IS A REASON TO HIDE THE DETAILS. FNM PROVE ME WRONG.

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proudloudandfnm 5 years, 7 months ago

If the PLP says it'd take 4 million to renovate that includes 1.5 million to steal and another million for waste and delays and shitty work.

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bogart 5 years, 7 months ago

Todays Tribune Tuesday October 23, 2018 BUSINESS Section page 3....off JFK....there is a buildong for sale state of the art, newly constructed school. Hurricane building....40,000 plus sq ft.....???,...on 3 plus acres....owner financing etc....

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