208 total votes.
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
DISNEY has an “outstanding environmental record” Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday, as he doubled down on his defence of the multi-million-dollar cruise facility proposed for South Eleuthera.
Dr Minnis underscored this project will result in “long-term sustainable development,” as he listed a litany of Family Island tourism projects during his keynote address at yesterday’s 2019 Local Government Workshop opening ceremony.
Among these projects include new airports, resorts, and ports.
Dr Minnis also announced the next National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) training session will take place next month.
Directly addressing the Disney deal, Dr Minnis said: “There has been talk in some quarters about the development that are dead wrong. The land on which the development is taking place is private property. It was not Crown land. Furthermore, Disney has an outstanding environmental record.
“No development will begin until an environmental impact assessment that meets the government’s requirements is done,” he reiterated.
Dr Minnis added that he was “pleased” to “personally inform” the residents of South Eleuthera that the deal for the port was signed, adding it will “result in long-term sustainable development, including business opportunities and jobs.”
Dr Minnis tabled the project’s heads of agreement in Parliament last week. The deal has been rife with controversy, with Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell last week saying details in the HOA have raised concerns.
Mr Mitchell also criticised Dr Minnis for the “arrogance” the prime minister displayed in Parliament when he made no apologies for announcing first in Eleuthera that the deal had been agreed. This was done in a closed-door meeting on March 7 and not announced until March 9.
Yesterday, Dr Minnis said he places “a priority” on town hall meetings and “keeping Family Island residents abreast of various national developments.”
He added his government will be creating and expanding offices of the prime minister in more Family Islands and also reiterated other upcoming projects.
“I am pleased that during this term in office we will build new airports in North Eleuthera, Exuma and Long Island,” Dr Minnis said.
“We are actively exploring the opportunity to establish a transshipment port in Mayaguana in the southern Bahamas,” he continued, adding the Bahamas Stripping Group of Companies will be developing poultry farms and processing plants in North Andros and Eleuthera and a distribution centre on New Providence.
Dr Minnis also noted the government is making an effort to incorporate solar power generation into the Ragged Island electricity grid and improving water access in Crooked Island and Long Island.
Resorts and lodges are also in development for Andros, Long Island, and Abaco.
The latter will include the upgrade and expansion of the Sandy Point airstrip, ferry dock, and extension of the Queen’s Highway.
Regarding NEMA and hurricane preparedness, Dr Minnis said: “After being hit by category four and five hurricanes for three consecutive years, we were spared last year, but we always need to be in a state of readiness.
“NEMA was given a mandate to provide training to all key stakeholders, well in advance of the hurricane season.
“NEMA has already had two, three-day training seminars in January and March with the assistance of US Northcom. Another three day training is planned for the first week of April, with the test run being done in June. Family Island administrators will be a part of this training. I urge you to make sure you are fully involved in this important exercise.”
Dr Minnis addressed the status of plans to introduce local government in New Providence. “I am pleased to report that the advisory committee on the introduction of local government to New Providence has completed extensive consultations both locally and internationally.
“They have compiled their findings in a report that will be presented to Cabinet in a few weeks for further discussion. The decisions that follow may enhance the quality of life in New Providence, in the first instance, and the enhancement of local government in the Family Islands.”