Construction at The Pointe. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune staff
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
WITH the spotlight again shining on the labour force complement at The Pointe, Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip "Brave" Davis accused Labour Minister Dion Foulkes of being "delinquent" in his oversight of the project.
Mr Davis said the minister has failed in this regard, repeatedly giving excuses for why more Bahamians are not at work at the down town Nassau project.
The Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP's rebuke was in response to the labour minister's explanation of the work force clause contained in the Heads of Agreement between Pointe developers and the government, signed under the former Christie administration.
Earlier this week, Mr Foulkes told reporters the clause has two interpretations, adding the Minnis administration opted to interpret the clause that calls for a 70/30 labour split in favour of Bahamians, as a requirement to be satisfied over the lifetime of the project and not a static ratio.
"I do not know where the labour minister is getting his double interpretation from," Mr Davis said in a statement yesterday, "but I stand by the letter and terms of the HOA executed by the PLP government that the labour ratio is to be 70 to 30 in favour of Bahamians.
"The minister of labour appears to be delinquent in his superintendence of this project and giving excuses for why Bahamians are not at work. He must do his job and not give excuses. One can hardly cause the developer to carry out its obligations under the agreement if the government is failing to carry out its obligations under the same agreement.
"The facts are that clause 3.2 of the said HOA are clear on the labour ratios, expressly that 'it is understood and agreed that the workforce employed by the Bahamian subcontractor are part of the overall Bahamian to non-Bahamian labour ratio and Bahamians will represent 70 percent of the total labour requirement for the development.'
"Clause 3 of the agreement also states that 'the developer shall make every effort to fill as many jobs as possible with Bahamian citizens.' At the completion of the project, the developer is to hire at least 500 Bahamians in addition to the existing 277 currently employed by the hotel. During the negotiations, the PLP government took deliberate steps to ensure that Bahamians were well represented and advantaged in both the developmental and operational stages of this project."
He said Mr Foulkes' interpretation was not fair.
"The agreement does not admit to two interpretations. I say this and even assuming but not conceding that the agreement does admit to two interpretations, then as government you adopt the interpretation that favours the Bahamian people not the developer.
"So if you accept that there are two interpretations, which one you going to adopt? The one that favours the developer or the one that favours the Bahamian people? You adopt the one the favours the Bahamian people.
"And that tells you where they are in respect to the Bahamian people."
There have been repeated calls from the Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) and its president, Leonard Sands, for the government to show just how many Bahamians are currently employed at the $200m development. The BCA previously branded as "hogwash" the government's finding that The Pointe is not in breach of its heads of agreement on labour ratios.
However, Mr Sands has said the agreement - as tabled by the former government - was vague, and could be interpreted in two different ways.
Mr Sands argued the principal concern was the lack of clarification on how Bahamians, skilled labourers and contractors, can engage the project.