A Statement by Hon. Philip Brave Davis M.P.,
Deputy Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and Minister of Works and Urban Development:
RE: Response to a letter penned by Former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham – dated Monday 12th August, 2013 in the Nassau Guardian.
It is not unusual for the former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham to scream in defense of others over our own and his letter published in today’s morning dailies proves that with him nothing has changed.
If Bahamians thought they could trust this man to stand up for them and their interests, well he provided them with the answer on where he stands on issues involving them.
In today’s edition of The Nassau Guardian, the former Prime Minister suggested that the Christie Government’s insistence on paying less for the road construction at Cable Beach to be “Tedious”, “Vexatious” and “Worrisome”.
The former Prime Minister should seriously consider the job of being a statesman for once and stand up for Bahamians. He should apply the common view that in all endeavors to move the country forward, he should for once, particularly in this case, put the People of The Bahamas First.
Mr. Ingraham should know that the Bahamian people elected leaders that will speak to their interest – and on May 7th, 2012 – they desired and elected good, responsible political leadership in the person of Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie.
They wanted leadership that will protect the public purse. They wanted leadership that will guard the national interest!
They wanted A PLP Government over a failed FNM Administration.
Bahamians unhitched themselves from a reckless administration in 2012, which squandered the limited resources in the public treasury like drunken sailors!
They removed that government led by Mr. Ingraham that padded contracts and went on a spending spree, which eventually brought the financial state of affairs of the Bahamas to the cliff of near financial ruins.
Mr. Ingraham, who now represents “Failed Corrupt Leadership” of the past in the country, crafted the unholy, ungodly and UNCHRISTIAN policy of “Stop Cancel and Review” in 2007! He victimized and put into financial ruins international investors who were welcomed into the Country by the Christie Administration before his terror fell on investors from around the world.
Bahamians remember how five years past with his government having attracted not one single investor to the Bahamas while he served as Prime Minister in his last term.
It was this same former Prime Minister who reviewed, stopped and cancelled $80 million worth of public works including the project in Mayaguana, the Straw Market, stalled the project at Albany and told the Bahamian people that Baha-Mar and Atlantis could not co-exist in the Bahamas – and took his time to chase the partners of Baha Mar, Harrah’s Entertainment out of the country.
It was indeed “worrisome” when Mr. Ingraham without care or concern for the Bahamian people compounded overruns on the New Providence Road Improvement Project [NPRIP] across the country and slammed a near $100 million in overrun costs on the backs of the Bahamian people. And it was indeed “vexatious” when he sold off the country’s patrimony BTC for a mere $210 million to – which when calculated was some $50 million less.
(Heads of Agreement between the Government and Baha Mar)
The Ministry of Works has always pursued an equitable agreement and settlement of matters between Baha Mar Limited (The Project Company) and the Government of the Bahamas for the reimbursement, which may be due to the Project Company for the works, which were to be fulfilled by it under the Heads of Agreement (The Agreement).
Those works are John F Kennedy (JFK) Drive Connector Road (subsequently known as corridor 7 linking New West Bay Street to JFK at its junction with Gladstone Road), the new diverted West Bay Street and public infrastructure relating or appurtenant thererto. (Subsequently referred to as: “such work”)
The matter at the heart of the current prolonged discussions with Baha Mar Limited is that it appears that the 2005 Agreement said the estimated cost of “such work” was approximately $90 million and Baha Mar would pay for the cost of “such work” beyond a Government commitment to spend $53.3 million for the JFK Connector Road- “provided however that if the total expenditure for such public infrastructure work by Baha Mar and the Government is determined by Baha Mar and the Government to be less than $70 million ….then Baha Mar agrees that the total amount expended shall be allocated fifty per cent ( 50%) to each party” .
Conversely the 2011 Agreement stated that the “ Project Company agrees to pay the entire cost of “ such work and the Government agrees to reimburse the Project Company for (i) $45.3 million of the total cost expended by the Project Company in respect of such work and (ii) the entire budgeted cost of the JFK Connector which the Government confirms is $2.8 million………..provided however that if the total expenditure for such public infrastructure work by the Project Company is determined by the Project Company to be less than $70 million ….then the Project Company agrees the total amount expended shall be allocated fifty per cent ( 50%) to each party…and the Government’s obligation to reimburse the Project Company shall be adjusted accordingly……”.
The key difference between these two different versions is that the former says “ if the total expenditure ….is determined by Baha Mar AND THE GOVERNMENT to be”…whereas the latter just says “is determined by the Project Company”. So a key area of discussion with Baha Mar at the moment is the entitlement of the Government to be party to the determination of the amount of legitimate/ appropriate spend. The latter agreement does not explicitly include that entitlement, but in the light of the earlier Agreements it could be held to be a reasonable assumption that the entitlement exists. To have a contractor determine under a contract the amount he gets paid by an Employer without any reference to the Employer as to whether he agrees the amount flies in the face of all established principles of contract, which is generally that the amounts to be paid should be agreed. In the event of disagreement the Employer has priority in determining the amounts to be paid under the Contract, and in the event of dispute over the same then the matter is referred to an independent third party.
Over and above that matter of principle of interpretation of an Agreement (where the concepts of equity, in terms of agreeing amounts, should surely be held to be an over-riding principle) lies the matter that Baha Mar is claiming that the implementation of “such works of JFK connector and New West Bay Street and public infrastructure relating or appurtenant thererto” has cost them some $118.8 million, of which they claim $89.999 million represents expenditure to be shared between Baha Mar Ltd and the Government. (Noticeably close to the estimated $90 million estimated at the outset in 2005!) . For the approximately 2 miles of road and utility provisions constituting “such works” at the Baha Mar development those figures represent a cost of approximately $59 million or $45 million per road mile.
Of interest is that the cost per mile of the Airport Gateway Project (6.2 miles of road, also dual 2 with utilities) is approximately $12 million per road mile and of NPRIP (13.2 miles of road, some of which dual 2, all with utilities) is approximately $15 million per road mile.
So I hope it is transparent what the Government’s concerns are: both that it should be recognized as a reasonable party to the determination and agreement of the amount to be reimbursed, and also of the value for money that is being delivered for that reimbursement in comparison to other infrastructure projects being con-currently delivered for the Bahamian people.
We are elected to serve the interest of the Bahamian people – and not to the will of any other country in the world!
Bahamians elected the Christie Administration with the task of looking out for the best interest of the Bahamian people, as the days of recklessness and wastage are a thing of the past.