EDITOR, The Tribune
I make no secret of the fact that my favourite cabinet minister within the Minnis regime is the Hon Dionisio D’Aguilar (FNM-Free Town) our erstwhile Minister of Tourism & Aviation. Dionisio is a businessman and a numbers cruncher par excellence. Yes, he may have inherited his wealth the old fashion ed way but when he took over the management of Super Wash there were a handful of outlets. Before he launched into politics, the chain had expanded dramatically and apart from new state of the art wash houses, the existing ones were overhauled and extensively renovated.
Once he announced that he was seeking to become a Member of Parliament, I knew that wherever he offered himself he would have been elected as he eventually was over in Free Town. It is common knowledge that he pays strict attention to his constituency duties and he maintains an open door policy unlike the majority of his colleagues. He is also a husband; a father and a very dutiful and protective son. I’ve meet both his mother (one of my biggest fans according to her) and his lovely wife who are jointly closely connected to the D’Aguilar Art Gallery.
The recently announced Agreement for Sale of the Grand Lucayan over in Freeport was the result of hard work by the Minister and his team, inclusive of Michael Scott, QC. The successful sale and eventual reopening of that property will go a long way in relieving the economic stress on Grand Bahama and the surrounding islands and cays. The passage of Dorian delayed negotiations and, of course, the damage sustained probably played a role in depressing the potential price that was agreed.
This is a job well done and we the people of this wonderful nation, regardless of politics, must give kudos to the Minister and the team. I have always supported the government’s purchase of Grand Lucayan because of the vital economic importance of that property and the scores of jobs that were on the line. I am not an FNM by any stretch of anyone’s imagination but I believe in giving credit where it is due, regardless of politics.
Now that the property has been sold I would expect that the regime will put the Sales Agreement into the public domain. We are entitled to know all of the details of the sale and any relevant terms; conditions; concessions and subsidies which might be applicable. The old days when successive governments could ‘hide’ or shelve such documents should be passé. The Opposition has called for the same thing but the party and its supporters may well have to go up against the barricades to pry this information out of Minnis and crew. This regime is not known for transparency or accountability, despite what they bellowed on the campaign trail.
Minister D’Aguilar deserves nothing short of a knighthood and possible elevation to Second Deputy Prime Minister. In talking about this, I would also suggest to our ‘hard headed’ Prime Minister that he elevate the Hon. Shannendon Cartwright (FNM-St Barnabas), the current Chairman of Beaches & Parks Commission to Minister of State for Commerce; Industry & Trade. Cartwright is a former executive at McDonald’s locally and is a seasoned brother within the craft. He’d make an excellent promoter of those aspects of our economic model.
The next big hurdle for Minister D’Aguilar is getting The Freeport International Airport up and running at the earliest opportunity. Sustainable and viable air lift into Grand Bahama is critical to the economic mass and the rejuvenating and rebranding of that Island.
While they are at it, the honourable Minister may wish to delegate the disposal and sale of the Light House Hotel in Andros to a consortium of Bahamians and attach a small casino licence to the same. That property is a potential Crown jewel and could be the catalyst that the people of our largest island have been waiting for for so long. In closing, I agree that there may well be a loss over the sale of Grand Lucayan but whatever they are, the fact that the regime has divested itself of what could have turned into an unwanted ‘white elephant’ was worth it. To God then, in all things, be the glory.
ORTLAND H BODIE, Jr
March 6, 2020.