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2005-12-12 15:39:57

Government Accused Of Secret Deals

Christie continues to deny any secret deals but fails to release all documents related to Baha Mar agreement.

"What I and my party, the FNM, object to is the conclusion of special deals, conceived and sealed in secret, which afford benefits to one investor that are not available to other investors, foreign or Bahamian, on the same terms," said Free National Movement Leader Hubert Ingraham in a recent letter published in The Tribune.

It's a charge FNM officials have continued to make. During his rally in Freeport last Friday night, Mr. Ingraham asked Prime Minister Christie to reveal key details of the Ginn project, which is planned for West Grand Bahama.

Prime Minister Christie announced at his party's convention last month that the government had approved the Gin development, which he said will be the largest mixed use resort development ever undertaken in The Bahamas or in the region for that matter.

He assured then that this is "no pie-in-the-sky project either."

"The Ginn development will spearhead the transformation of western Grand Bahama into a resort Mecca of world-class caliber," Mr. Christie said. "Moreover, the magnitude of this project is such that its positive job-creation effects and entrepreneurial opportunities for Bahamians will extend throughout Grand Bahama and the rest of the northern Bahamas."

In his letter to the press, Mr. Ingraham also stressed that the FNM not only welcomes foreign investments in The Bahamas, but effectively used such investments to fuel the resurgence of the Bahamian economy between 1992 and 2002 to create 40,000 new jobs throughout the country.

During the rally Mr. Ingraham said, "The FNM is investment friendly. The FNM supports investments, Bahamian and foreign. The FNM believes that an agreement for investments, even if made during difficult times, must be able to stand the light of day in good times."

The government also continues to face charges that it has not revealed the full details of its agreement with the Baha Mar development company for the Cable Beach project.

Senator Tommy Turnquest, the former FNM leader, has called on the government to make public the agreement for sale between Baha Mar Development Limited and the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas dated April 6, 2005;

The agreement for sale between Baha Mar Development Company Limited and the Treasurer of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas dated April 6, 2005;

And the agreement for sale between Baha Mar Development Company Limited and the prime minister and minister of finance acting as the minister responsible for Crown Lands, also dated April 6, 2005.

Senator Turnquest charged that there is a lack of transparency and accountability as it relates to such investment deals.

The prime minister only recently responded to such allegations, saying that there has not been any investment transaction that has been so "complete in its transparency, accountability and provision of information, than the transaction of Baha Mar."

"There has been either a gross or irresponsible misunderstanding on the part of the former prime minister or clear negligence on his part of being attentive of national events," he said last week.

The prime minister also noted that Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe delivered a 16-page communication on the Baha Mar development on May 25, citing all of the details, and tabled a copy of the Heads of Agreement, which sets out all of the details of the project.

"The agreement makes it clear, sets out the details, schedule of activities, when buildings would go down, stipulates what is going to happen to the land," Mr. Christie said.

By: Candia Dames, The Bahama Journal

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