The Opposition has vowed to do everything in its power to block exploratory oil drilling in the Bahamas before comprehensive regulations are put in place and unless there is full disclosure of any relationship between the oil industry and senior PLPs, The Tribune reports.
FNM chairman Darron Cash said the government’s rush to drill raises red flags.
In a recent press statement Mr. Cash said that both Prime Minister Perry Christie and Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis delivered services to the Bahamas Petroleum Company before they came to office, while a then PLP candidate – Senator Jerome Gomez – was country manager for BPC. Deputy Prime Minister Philip ‘Brave’ Davis was a BPC attorney and and Perry Christie was a consultant.
“The government has announced its intention to allow exploratory oil drilling ahead of putting in place the legislative and regulatory framework necessary to ensure transparency, safety and appropriate returns to the Bahamian people,” he added.
“The Minister of the Environment has given assurances that these are coming. But we must ask, why the rush?”
Mr Cash said: “The government was rejected in that effort because of its failure to put in place the necessary legislative and regulatory framework to ensure accountability and transparency. History appears to be repeating itself. With oil drilling the stakes of incompetence in the Christie government are higher.
“While shortcomings in the web shop business may lead to reduced government tax revenues, lack of oversight and proper enforcement in the oil drilling business would be far more catastrophic, possibly leading to significant destruction of our fishing and tourism industries.”
Mr Cash added: “Prime Minister Christie would be aware from the General Election campaign that this is an issue of tremendous concern to the Bahamian people. In view of that, the FNM would have expected a well-considered and well-structured approach from the very beginning. As of now, the government’s haphazard approach has been enormously disappointing.”
“For a debate of critical national importance that requires a wealth of information, the process is getting started in a completely backwards fashion.
“This begs the question – Why the rush? Again!
“In the interest of complete transparency, the Bahamian people deserve to know whether this action by the government is another act of payback to a financial backer of the PLP?
“While we are at the start of this process, the FNM wants the Christie administration to understand that the official opposition will not be a meaningful partner in this important national debate unless and until the members of the Christie administration with past and present ties to oil interests make complete and accurate disclosures of their past financial and other dealings with the principals of BPC and any related party or entity. This disclosure is non-negotiable.”
“He would be well advised to outline a clear plan of action and an information/education campaign so that all stakeholders can be informed and then plan appropriately to have their voices heard on this important issue.
“The Prime Minister, as head of the government owes the Bahamian people this elevated level of transparency.”
Source: The Tribune