48 total votes.
By JADE RUSSELL
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis last night said Education Minister Glenys Hanna Martin did not violate the Ministerial Code when she expressed opposing views to the Royal Caribbean project approved by the government.
His comments came as the FNM said that Mrs Hanna Martin had to resign under Cabinet rules if she was unwilling to stand united with her colleagues.
Mrs Hanna Martin said on Thursday her views have not changed on the $110m beach club project on Paradise Island, saying she did not support it during the Minnis administration and her opinion remains the same.
In a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Davis said:
“In recent days, there has been anxious and mischievous commentary, concerning comments made by the Minister of Education, Hon Glenys Hanna Martin in relation to the draft deal with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL).”
The statement continued: “All Bahamians will have shared my experience of Minister Hanna Martin that, in her long and valued career in politics, she has always advocated powerfully, passionately and with integrity, on behalf of the Bahamian people. In this instance, she has behaved no differently, when she reiterated her previously publicly expressed views regarding the pending RCCL application.”
Mr Davis in the statement noted the project’s deal is still under review, pending the outcome of the Environmental Impact Assessment.
“This is an important component of the final decision, as we remain committed to ensuring that any decision we make is in the best interests of our country and its people, while also protecting our natural resources for future generations.”
“As such, it is my clear view that she has not violated the Ministerial Code.”
Mrs Davis added the Education Minister continues to make contributions to the national development and has his full confidence to continue doing so.
While in opposition in 2021, Mrs Hanna-Martin called the proposal “hare-brained”. She hit out at the Minnis administration for “kicking a Bahamian developer to the curb” in favour of the cruise line.
It was recently announced that the revised proposal was approved by the Davis administration, and the Prime Minister said developers are expected to break ground “almost immediately”.
Hours earlier, Free National Movement leader Michael Pintard called for the resignation of Mrs Hanna Martin, arguing her public opposing position on the project exposed the dysfunction of Davis’s Cabinet.
He said: “Minister Glenys Hanna Martin’s public comments regarding her personal position on the Royal Caribbean Paradise Island project matter once again exposes the dysfunction of Davis’s Cabinet.
“It is a well-known and universally acceptable principle of Westminster governance that Cabinet shares collective responsibility for all decisions of the Cabinet. Regardless of the personal position of a Minister, he or she must publicly support the decisions of Cabinet or leave the Cabinet.”
The FNM leader argued a minister must publicly support the decisions of Cabinet regardless of their own position on the matter or leave the Cabinet.
Essentially, Cabinet ministers are expected to have a united front on all decisions to the public based on the Manuel of Cabinet and Ministry Procedure.
Mr Pintard said Mrs Hanna Martin is well aware of this principle, and also pointed out two key clauses of the manual.
It reads: “A fundamental principle of ‘Cabinet Government’ is unity. It is important to present a united front to the public; if any Minister feels conscientiously unable to support a decision taken by Cabinet, he has one course open to him and that is to resign his office.”
The statement continued: “So long as a Minister remains a Minister, he may not speak in public or in private against a decision of Cabinet or against an individual decision of another Minister. As he is a member of the Government Bench in the House of Assembly or in the Senate, he must not speak or vote on any measure debated in either House otherwise. than on the lines agreed by Cabinet.”
Mr Pintard said Mrs Hanna Martin is not prepared to live up to the terms of her employment, “and believes the prime minister based on his handling of the Alfred Sears and Jobeth Coleby-Davis matters does not have the courage to fire her,” he noted.
In 2020, while in opposition, it was reported that Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis declared that a PLP government would cancel any lease granted to RCI for Crown land to develop its beach club project. However, after the Progressive Liberal Party won the 2021 general election, officials said Mr Davis was seeking a compromise in the Crown land row.
Recently, Mr Davis said his administration has ensured that Bahamians have more involvement in the controversial project and said it was approved so that visitors have more activities.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism Chester Cooper has said regarding the Crown land being leased to RCI, the government plans to also convert this asset into an ownership stake in the development that would be held by the country’s sovereign wealth fund.
According to Mr Cooper “the project will cover 17 acres – of which 13 acres represent privately held land and some four acres of Crown land that was included in the lease to RCI by the former administration”.