Christie Shamed For Giving Away The Peoples’ Land
Former Prime Minister Perry Christie was blasted in the House of Assembly for giving away 265 acres of the peoples’ prime land to Baha Mar in a bid to outshine FNM PM Hubert Ingraham.
Kennedy MP Kenyatta Gibson claimed the Christie administration was so overwhelmed by the Baha Mar resort’s billion dollar promises that they sold the “birthright” of future generations of Bahamians for “peanuts.”
The land to be transferred includes land occupied by Wyndham Resort, Nassau Beach Hotel, the Hobby Horse Hall parcel, Fidelity Bank, the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre (which houses the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Prime Minister), the Cable Beach Police Station and the old West Bay Street, new corridor number seven, 50 acres off Gladstone Road, the Prospect Ridge parcel, the Water and Sewerage Corporation parcel, the BEC parcel, plus an additional parcel of .783 acre.
Gibson, who led debate on the resolution to approve work permits for the 8,150 foreign workers needed to help construct the multibillion Baha Mar project, told Christie that he should be ashamed of himself for giving away the peoples’ prime land.
Mr Christie was so shamed by the scathing attack that he scampered from the the chamber of the House and hid in the Opposition’s Room.
The MP also accused the PLP of engaging in secret deals, back-room arrangements and implementing confidential clauses during their Baha Mar negotiations.
“From the very start, Mr. Speaker Sir, long before the Export-Import Bank of China or the government of China itself ever became involved in this project the Bahamian people had become the unwilling pawns in the greatest sham, smoke and mirrors confidence game in the history of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” said Gibson.
“It is interesting to note how in a five-year administration most Bahamian applicants for Crown land to carry out projects were refused. But without batting an eye lid, they gave away Cable Beach, Goodman’s Bay, the old Hobby Horse Hall and parts of the Killarney district, and then sought to cover up the deal with silence in the face of inquiries from the Bahamian people,” said Mr Gibson of his former party.
“The Bahamian people deserve better than this wholesale pillage and plunder of public assets. This egregious land give away is one of the greatest raids on the material wealth of the Bahamian collective since the post-colonial era begun. It is a moral disgrace and the member for Farm Road and Centreville should be ashamed of himself!
“I am advised, and I verily believe, that the principals of Baha Mar could not believe their good fortune, that they could stumble across negotiators and national leaders who were willing to sell off the birthright of countless generations of our people for peanuts.”
Gibson, knows the messy details of the deal as he was a part of the PLP caucus when the Baha Mar deal was first negotiated.
He claimed that the deal was made to serve the purposes of certain members of the governing party at the time, suggesting that the PLP sought the Baha Mar deal in an effort to match Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham’s success in bringing Kerzner International to The Bahamas.
“In their own political self interest, and I dare say, out of the desire to have it said that ‘Ingraham brought Kerzner to The Bahamas, so Christie brought Baha Mar here’, the loose-knitted, poorly constructed deal began falling apart, even before the world financial crisis or meltdown even started.”
“They wanted to duplicate for legacy’s sake, at any cost whatsoever, at my children’s cost, at your children’s cost and Lord help us, even at their own children’s cost, North Abaco’s accomplishment, with the advent of Sun International, now Kerzner International and the world renowned Atlantis property,” Gibson said referring to the PLP.
Several opposition members, most notably Bernard Nottage and Fred Mitchell, took offence with Mr Gibson’s assertions.
Nottage, the Opposition’s lead speaker in the debate, foolishly suggested that the FNM should have changed the deal when they negotiated a supplementary Heads of Agreement with Baha Mar shortly after assuming office in 2007.
He also, somewhat disingenuously, asked why the “useless” resolution was brought before Parliament when, traditionally, work permit approvals are left for Cabinet or Immigration approval.
Of course, had the FNM simply approved the work permits, the PLP would have been all over them for that.
In his most nonsensical comment, Nottage said, “If we are people who are selling the birthright by selling the land, then what you want us to do? You send somebody here to berate the leader of the Opposition.”Baha Mar, land, PLP