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2005-03-09 15:57:07

Guana Cay Opponents Plan

The litigation against the heads of agreement will challenge the authority of the Cabinet entering into the deal without having any statutory authority.

The Save Guana Cay Lobby is identifying plaintiffs who will be prepared to bring proceedings in the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Perry Christie and his Cabinet before the filing of their court action in two weeks, the group's lawyer Fred Smith told The Tribune yesterday.

Mr Smith cautioned developers of the $400 million Passerine of Abaco project not to "feel too comfortable".

"We are hoping to file an action no later than the week of March 21 to 25 because of government having signed this agreement with the developer," he said.

The litigation against the heads of agreement will challenge the authority of the Cabinet entering into the deal without having any statutory authority.

"In the Bahamas the prime minister is not a law unto himself. A prime minister or governor general can only act when authorised to do so by parliament," Mr Smith said.

The concept that Cabinet can enter into a heads of agreement and not disclose to the public the terms of it is wrong and misconceived, he said.

"In this day and age the Bahamian people, and particularly the citizens in Guana Cay who are most affected by this transaction, should have full disclosure," said Mr Smith.

He said there should have been a debate in the House of Assembly on the terms of agreement and then consultation with the communities on Guana Cay.

During the signing of the heads of agreement between the developers and government earlier this week Mr Christie said concerns being expressed by the residents of the cay are not unusual and that the conservation of the environment which has made the Bahamas well-known worldwide is of first priority to him.

He said the developers and government have made a commitment to protect the environment of the island.

The Save Guana Cay Lobby is raising funds and will be engaging in public meetings to promote their cause.

These funds are to be used for a public marketing campaign internationally and nationally and also for legal funds. The money raised will also be used to employ environmental experts to critique and advise on the environmental impact assessment provided by the developers.

Mr Smith said residents fear the development will destroy the sanctity of their quaint island community.

"The Save Guana Cay Lobby are there to save the island. They don't want an entire third of the island to be sliced off from the rest of Guana Cay and to become a preserve for the rich foreign investor.

"Our land resources are very small in the Bahamas. Although we cover thousands of miles of water, we have a very small availability of land and we should be preserving these places as national treasures," the lawyer said.

Mr Smith said a $400 million investment in Guana Cay is not going to be felt across the Bahamas.

"However, if $400 million was pumped into Freeport where there are thousands of unemployed people, where the infrastructure is, where there are people who can directly benefit from this, that would benefit us more," he said.

Rupert Missick, The Tribune
March 5, 2005

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