IT IS interesting to see the Davis administration leap into action over the Royal Caribbean lease of Crown Land on Paradise Island.
Just over a week ago, Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis was all smiles and praising the company’s efforts to minimise the effect of its fleet on the environment. Now, after The Tribune reports the details of a potential 150-year lease for a pittance of annual rent, Mr Davis is planning to prevent such a deal, it would seem.
Press secretary Clint Watson said: “What you ought to also understand is we’re not going to do any ad hoc crazy deals. We would have seen the stories in your paper about these leases that go on for years and so forth. That’s not what’s going to be what the outcome is for the Bahamian people, for this administration.”
First of all, we would hope that when this paper published those details, it was not the first time the government realised what had been agreed to.
Secondly, it’s not a matter of not doing any “ad hoc crazy deals”. This deal was signed on May 25 this year. It’s not just one deal either – Royal Caribbean has a seabed lease for the project as well.
From a public relations view, it does no harm for the reputation of the new government with voters if it is seen to be fighting against a deal signed by its predecessors, especially one that has been done with a foreign company while a Bahamian entrepreneur is locked in a legal wrangle to try and get approval – and land - for his business right next door. Where the harm comes is if businesses, local or otherwise, get the perception that agreements that are signed won’t be honoured.
But good luck to Mr Davis for making any headway in substantially changing a deal in both its length and the amount of money it raises – that won’t be easy.
Royal Caribbean has the signed agreement in hand, so it is in a position of strength for any renegotiation, and can always choose to walk away if the deal isn’t right.
Mr Watson says, meanwhile that Mr Davis wants to amicably resolve the disagreement involving that Bahamian entrepreneur, Toby Smith, as well.
Perhaps that might be the key to resolving the matter – finding a way in which both parties can co-exist, especially as Mr Watson says that Mr Smith was granted the land first.
The making of this mess was not by this administration – so the blame for getting us here does not fall on them. Where we go from here will be on their shoulders, however, and it will be interesting to see the outcome – both in terms of length of lease and the amount being paid for it.
Welcome back to the political scene, Loretta Butler-Turner.
Mrs Butler-Turner has been appointed by the government as a consultant to the Small Business Development Centre – although the eye-catching line is that the long-time FNM now says she has a PLP leaning.
From challenging for leadership of the FNM, to ousting Dr Hubert Minnis as Leader of the Opposition in 2016, she has since lost as an independent candidate in 2017 and now finds herself hired by those she once opposed. It is quite a journey, but however we got here, her voice is welcomed back in the public arena. There are those who agree with her, those who disagree with her, but she has always been a strong voice on Bahamian matters.
For now, she will bring that voice to helping to build small businesses and especially in helping young entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams.
What will the future bring? That we must wait and see.