Dr. Hubert Minnis, Leader of the Official opposition Free National Movement, continued on Thursday to hammer the Perry Christie Government on the position taken, to seal certain terms of the agreement for the resumption of the Baha Mar project on the West Bay Strip in New Providence.
The FNM leader held a press conference on Thursday at the party’s headquarters.
Following is Dr. Minnis’ statement in its entirety:
“Colleagues, members of the press, ladies and gentlemen, the Free National Movement condemns in the strongest possible terms the suspicious and undemocratic decision by the Christie-led PLP Government to request the Supreme Court of The Bahamas to put beyond the reach of the Bahamian people the Agreement which it signed with China EXIM Bank to complete the Baha Mar project. The government must be aware that the agreement that they signed was executed by them on behalf of the Bahamian people and as a result, the government has a sacred duty to make the agreement public and not keep the details from the people.
Only dictatorial and dishonest governments do the peoples' business in the dark of night and hope that their deals never see the light of day.
We wish to put both the Bahamas Government and the Chinese on notice that once in office, an FNM Government in the sunshine will expose the agreement to the Bahamian people if this government does not, so that any part of it that is not in the interest of the Bahamian people or that would put them in further jeopardy, would be cancelled.
We in the FNM are at a complete loss as to why this PLP Government is afraid to tell our Bahamian people how much of the country was given away by them in return for the opening of the casino hotel and golf course at Cable Beach.
We challenge the government to deny that the concessions, in the secret under the table deal, with the Chinese do the following:
1. Gives the right to automatic citizenship to hundreds of Chinese nationals.
2. Leases thousands of acres of Bahamian land at a fire sale price to the Chinese.
3. Provides over a thousand work permits to Chinese nationals to do work that Bahamian workers can do.
4. Provides the exemption from payment of VAT and payment of hotel and casino taxes for a specified period of time.
We remind the PLP Government that under the most favored nation clause in the Atlantis Resort Agreement the government may be made to match any additional concessions given to Baha Mar, further reducing the taxes payable to government.
Mr. Prime Minister, if this deal is as good for The Bahamas as you have said, then why are you hiding it from the Bahamian people?
Why don’t you want it to see the light of day so that the Bahamian people can examine it in detail?
Where is the accountability and transparency that you have sworn to uphold and that you constantly brag about?
As a show of good faith Prime Minister, you must immediately address the many questions surrounding your secret deal.
Why did you Prime Minister request the Supreme Court to seal the details of this deal and deny public access to the Agreement?
What are you hiding from us?
How many Bahamian citizenships did your government give away as part of the deal?
What is the nature and value of the additional tax breaks and concessions?
Is this a final deal or is this just another ‘framework agreement’?
Is there a potential buyer and if so, who?
Why would the PLP Government think it is a good idea to sell The Bahamas out to a foreign country?
How many foreign workers will be brought over to finish the resort?
Does the government think that there are no Bahamians capable of finishing the construction of this hotel?
We have the right to know!
The Bahamian people have every right to see the agreement that you have executed in their name and on their behalf and we will use every legal avenue available to us to expose such.
Why should the Bahamian people trust you Prime Minister and the PLP when on Monday night you promised to provide the public with details of the agreement knowing full well that you had already requested the courts to seal the deal from public scrutiny?
Was it your intent to be in contempt of the courts, or was that just another promise that you never intended to keep?
This secret deal is positive proof that Prime Minister Christie is willing to do anything to be re-elected even if it means putting the future of our Bahamas and the Bahamian people in the hands of a country steeped in a foreign communist ideology and culture.
The Bahamian people deserve leaders who do not hide behind closed doors, crafting secret deals and keeping the people from finding out what they did.
The FNM is about true leadership – and that starts with accountability and transparency – two principles of governance that Prime Minister Christie and the PLP seem completely unfamiliar with.
The Free National Movement is committed to enacting “A Freedom of Information Act” that would make it unlawful for the government to make secret deals with foreign entities and then run to the courts to protect its secrecy.
We are committed to being transparent and accountable to the Bahamian people in every action we take on their behalf.
The Bahamian people deserve no less.
Published Friday, August 26, 2016