PM Minnis and former Cabinet Minister Brent Symonette did discuss the Town Centre Mall arrangement before the resolution on the Town Centre Mall was tabled in Parliament….
NASSAU| As dark clouds hover over the capital city of New Providence tonight, Bahamas Press investigative team is sifting through papers and audio material which could be the beginning of the end of the Minnis-led Administration.
Last week’s interview with Brent Symonette on Shenique Miller’s “The Conversation” on ZNS 1540AM proves that Prime Minister Minnis lied to Parliament and allowed a resolution to debate the Town Centre Mall to proceed, even though he had full knowledge that a Conflict of Interest was brewing because the beneficial owner involved was, at the time, a sitting Cabinet Minister: Mr. Symonette.
According to the show, Mr. Symonette told Miller and the country how he warned PM Minnis involving his building in the Post Office lease would result in a Conflict of Interest situation. Mr. Symonette then said he was assured by the Prime Minister that a Resolution [See Attached] would be brought to Parliament to clear up the conflict.
Back in October 2018, during a heated Parliamentary exchange, Mr. Symonette stood to declare his interest in the mall and a company called BHRSC Holding Ltd. only after Official Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis raised a point in the House that a declaration should be made so the House could take a vote on whether the MP would have to vacate his seat if the resolution on using the Town Centre Mall as a post office was approved.
But Mr. Symonette said: “Mr Speaker, in order to try and resolve where we are, in order to help the member for Cat Island and the honourable House, the resolution itself speaks to a beneficial ownership of a member sitting. Without saying it they are obviously talking about me… Speaker it is wonderful to be the first in history to have such a debate.”
Being prepared for the heated debate, Mr. Symonette then laid on the table the annual statement for the Blue Hill Road Shopping Centre Limited, stamped by the Registrar General on October 4, which disclosed its shareholders. Mr. Symonette then added, “As you can see from here, BHRSC holdings owns 9,610 of the 10,00 shares. A company by the name of 71 Percent Holdings Limited owns 113, which is either myself my wife or my children for all intents and purposes, and I own 81 of the shares.” But it gets worse.
When you read the contents of the Resolution laid on the floor of Parliament it states in the 6th paragraph:
“AND WHEREAS one of the beneficial owners of the said Town Centre Mall is a serving Cabinet Minister, who did not take part in the discussions leading to the decision to accept the offer to lease portions of the building which will be made suitable for the operations of the general Post Office at the expense of the landlord; which Minister has nonetheless declared his interest;….”
But is this indeed true?
From the interview on the radio show “The Conversation”, we know, according to Mr. Symonette, both he and the Prime Minister discussed the basics of the Town Centre Mall lease, including the size of the lease arrangements and its cost. We also know, again according to Mr. Symonette, that he and PM Minnis resolved to present to Parliament a Resolution to deal with the Conflict of Interest charges, which would flow from the decision of the Cabinet to award a senior member a contract. But this now gets worse.
While Minister of Transport for the Post Office, Hon. Renward Wells, assured tthe taxpayers in Parliament that the move would cost around $900,000 per year to house the General Post Office in the Town Centre Mall at a cost of $12 per square foot. He added that the lease worked out to be around $4.5m over the five-year life span of the lease.
However, on “The Conversation” Mr. Symonette told listeners the cost is no where near the $900,000, as stated by the Minister, but is around some $700,000 [$200,000 less than the cost suggested by Minister Wells]. This is due to the fact that in his [BRENT] discussions with the PM, he stressed from the outset he could not deliver the space desired by the government. So everyone just lied in Parliament! What is this?
Meanwhile, Mr. Symonette told the nation via the ZNS program that neither party had signed the lease yet as it was still being held up in the Attorney General’s Office.
The Opposition has demanded a tabling of the lease arrangements between the government and the beneficial owners of the Town Centre Mall from the very first tabling of the Resolution. Nothing has been forthcoming.
Meanwhile, the General Post Office has moved into the Town Centre Mall and is open for business with no formal agreement in place. WHAT IS THIS?
We report yinner decide!