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Disney Decision 'In Best Interest Of The Country'

Lighthouse Point.

Lighthouse Point.

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE Minnis administration is solely concerned with providing the best for the Bahamian people, according to Press Secretary Anthony Newbold, who yesterday defended the government against criticism for its decision to back Disney's proposal for Lighthouse Point.

Responding to questions over how the government arrived at its decision to support Disney over a Bahamian-led rival's proposal and the criticism that has followed, Mr Newbold insisted the Minnis administration is willing to take whatever hits are needed to do whatever is best, long-term, for the country.

"The government is concerned about providing for the people of The Bahamas and the people of The Bahamas are the ones who are going to have to decide whether this Cabinet remains the government after the next election," Mr Newbold said when asked if the government was concerned with what its recent policy decisions could mean for a re-election bid.

"Push back for Grand Lucayan; how could you do that? Are you guys crazy? Yea, but the people in Grand Bahama who have to eat don't think that government is crazy," he said, referring to the government's recent purchase of the beleaguered hotel. "The people in South Eleuthera who have to eat, they don't think the government is crazy at all.

"And so, sometimes you take a hit and you take a hit because that is what you need to do for the people of The Bahamas."

Addressing the Lighthouse Point Partners' bid that lost out to Disney, Mr Newbold added: "…. Suggestions (from them said) 'we are going to build this thing out three to five years'.

"Well, what do the people of South Eleuthera do for the next five years? And so, sometimes you take a hit."

Mr Newbold continued: "The government, Prime Minister Minnis, his thing is, I am going to take care of these people. This case now with South Eleuthera. Earlier, it was the people in Grand Bahama. And wherever that needs to happen, it will happen in the best way possible.

"Are these decisions always perfect decisions or can the situations be perfect? No, they cannot. You have to work through them.

"That is what governments are elected to do, make those tough decisions that may seem crazy to some people today, but six months down the road, you know, they don't seem so crazy after all," he said.

The commentary provides a glimpse into the line of thought the Minnis administration grappled with throughout its review and deliberation proposes.

The government has, since its decision last Friday, made it a point to indicate that its choice was made in accordance with the wishes and desire of the people of Central and South Eleuthera.

Moreover, the government, specifically the Cabinet, has made the point that it could not influence the sale of the property and could only consider proposals that included sale agreements to acquire the privately own segments of Lighthouse Point.

Moving to clarify that point yesterday, Mr Newbold noted: "No one has explained yet, how someone can make, in fact, insist on making a proposal for land that they do not own."

When asked moments later if the jab was directed at the One Eleuthera Foundation and its supporters, Mr Newbold added: "They put a proposal forward. They don't own the land."

The National Economic Council last Friday approved Disney's proposal to develop a cruise port at Lighthouse Point.

The decision came despite calls from the LPP to delay the decision for 60 days to provide the group an equal opportunity to present its proposal for the property to the public.

In the lead up to the decision, Dr Minnis said that his government would not consider the environmental arguments that were levied on the project, due in large part to the fact that a more damaging project - one that never materialised - was approved for the area in 2008 under the FNM government of Hubert Ingraham. Dr Minnis was minister of health in that administration.

Attempting to clarify and walk back portions of the declaration yesterday, Mr Newbold said Dr Minnis was only "offering context" in that moment.

"The prime minister never said that he opposed that project, which some people have intimated. (He) never said that," Mr Newbold told reporters at his weekly press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday.

"He was simply providing context. This is what was proposed ten years ago, this is what Disney is proposing; look at the two," he added.

Mr Newbold continued: "And now, the prime minister won't say anything about whether he opposed it or not because we can go to Section 3, Article 17 of the manual for Cabinet and Ministerial Procedure and Behaviour to understand why he won't talk about that."

"And quite simply, what happens in Cabinet, as they say about Vegas, stays in Cabinet. With respect to positions that members of Cabinet may take and the reason (the stance) is observed is that all the members of Cabinet must feel unrestrained, not constrained to hold back on any position they may advance for fear that position will get into the public domain and anything results from that kind of information getting in the public domain."

"So, the bottom line is the prime minister didn't say he opposed the project. He was providing context," Mr Newbold contended.

Comments

BahamasForBahamians 1 year, 11 months ago

Lol.. after damaging his integrity I wonder what Ace plans to do once this government is toppled.

Taking a job to be the PM's official liar for 5 years may be a very short sighted move without securing other provisions. He will be toast in the media field after being associated with our now PM, the worst ever in Bahamian history.

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SP 1 year, 11 months ago

Dr. Minnis will need to work a hell of a lot of "overtime, all the time" to be anywhere near the worst PM in Bahamian history!

The IMF and Moody's already crowned the 3 stooges, Pindling, Ingraham, and Christie, as the worst leaders in the region.

If Dr. Minnis ensures Disney's development for Lighthouse Point is open to the public, I totally agree it is the right way to go, as the resort development would make Eleuthera and the Bahamas a sought-after destination for tourist and would enormously benefit Eleuthera as a Bahamas resort destination "with something to do".

Disney's proposed development would also spawn any number of spin-off support developments for Bahamians, and encourage other theme parks, developers, to take a very serious look at the Bahamas.

This should have been the objective 5 decades ago to create "real" competition to Florida. What Jackass Pindling, Ingraham, and Christie were thinking of is a mystery of mysteries only they can explain.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 11 months ago

I support the Disney move. The LPP should have made their proposal under the PLP.

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Clamshell 1 year, 11 months ago

The top PLPs on Eleuthera also back the Disney plan. Davis himself has all but endorsed it.

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John 1 year, 11 months ago

This desision is understandable, very understandable... Hey the stock market is crashing and when the tariffs Trump has put in place take effect ..the economy will slide into another recession/depression meaning there will be inflation while a recession is happening. get ready for it.

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concerned799 1 year, 11 months ago

Increasing the cruise industry gives them more power, and takes away power from land based tourism products. Allowing cruise visitors that spend virtually nothing in the Bahamas to see Lighthouse beach shoots ourselves in the foot. It closes the door on higher yielding land based products on the same property.

If more cruise visitors is "Good" then why isn't the Bahamas booming after the harbour in Nassau was dredged to allow in super large cruise ships? Its economy worse than it was then. So more volume CAN NOT solve the problem. More cruise tourists = less spend in the Bahamas, and the results speak for themselves.

When again did crime spike in Nassau? Oh, about the same time cruise ships went mega sized. If more cruise visitors was the cure, we'd be an economic paradise by now.

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Porcupine 1 year, 11 months ago

Agreed. But, it seems that logic and common sense left The Bahamas when the cruise ships arrived.

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The_Oracle 1 year, 11 months ago

The pathetic arguments and excuses issued from a weak position. I have no problem with Cruise lines/Cattle barges, they appeal to some, My argument is with Government administrations rolling over and playing dead, giving away tax concessions to the point of allowing Micky's Sovereign nation to encamp within the Bahamas! (applies to all of the cruise lines) They consume nothing locally, they hire a minimum number of low wage locals, zero benefits (health, pension, do they even observe the Bahamian labor laws?) underpaid cruise ship crew work ashore, Government basically pays them per tourist head (a recent confession!) I swear, every conversation about anything Government does aught to start with "What or which Idiot....."

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geostorm 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't blame the good doctor! Don't mind the naysayers, they will complain if you do the right thing or if you don't. They just want to see the government fail. At the end of the day, you have to do what is right for the Bahamian people even if it means they will vote you out in 2022.

All I know is, there was absolutely no way we could continue in the direction we were headed in with the former government. There was no accountability or concern for the Bahamian people. So Doc my advice to you is to do what is in the best interest of our country., tune out the naysayers and press forward. We have to return to fiscal responsibility. We have to get people working, not stealing at every opportunity they have. I am sick of seeing people hauled before the courts for petty theft. There is so much that needs to be done on immigration, crime, fixing the infrastructure etc.

Instead of playing partisan politics, Bahamians need to do what they can to support the government. Stop fighting amongst ourselves over party colors. If the government fails, we ALL lose. Just look at our neighbors south of us.: Barbados, Jamaica, Haiti etc. Is that the direction that we want our country to go in?

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truetruebahamian 1 year, 10 months ago

This is more than politics, it is about best use of resources and sustainability. Being not a team player and dismayed by politics entirely, I look further ahead than the gimme gimme shouts and short term perspective. Doc was wrong - big time wrong.

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