Ingraham BLOCKED BAHA MAR scale development for Grand Bahama 4 times
By OSWALD T. BROWN
There are a number of unanswered questions surrounding the firing of Kenneth Russell as Minister of Housing by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, but one question in particular that residents of Grand Bahama should certainly request that Ingraham explain is why from all appearances he seems to be on a personal mission to ensure that Grand Bahama’s economy remains in the doldrums.
Despite the political chicanery of FNM unity staged at the “mini FNM rally” at Christ The King auditorium in Freeport on Sunday, no one has yet explained why Ingraham on four occasions refused to grant permission for a $1.5 billion development in the East End of Grand Bahama.
Although The Freeport News “buried” the story on Page 7, the claims made in an article by reporter Yasmin Popescu clearly indicated that Ingraham at some point during his recent four-plus years as Prime Minister decided that he would do absolutely nothing to help Grand Bahama shovel its way out of the deep pit of economic stagnation that his government’s policies plunged it into.
The article was based on an interview with Russell, who claimed that he was “working with a gentleman from the United States who owns a company that was seeking to do a major development in Grand Bahama.”
“It was supposed to go first in the Freeport area; however, he later decided on East Grand Bahama, but that was rejected by the government after four attempts,” Russell is quoted as saying.
This is absolutely unbelievable. But Ingraham admitted that one of the reasons he fired Russell was because he discussed publicly matters that were dealt with in Cabinet.
Under the Westminster system of government, to which The Bahamas adheres, Ingraham acted quite properly when he fired Russell, but this does not take the spotlight away from Ingraham’s vindictive and seemingly well-planned agenda to keep Grand Bahama’s economy at death’s doorsteps.
Can you imagine what a $1.5 billion project would have meant to Grand Bahama? Unquestionably, it would have put Freeport back on the highway to regaining its once prized reputation as being the “Magic City,” during which thousands of Bahamians came here from New Providence and other islands of the Bahamas and were gainfully employed.
But as I’ve noted in previous articles, Ingraham decided to destroy Grand Bahama’s economy because of a personal feud he launched against Sir Jack Hayward, one of the principal owners of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), because Sir Jack refused to sell the GBPA to Hutchison Whampoa, which Sir Jack is on record as referring to as a communist China company.
I’ve also previously noted that Ingraham spitefully sought to increase his pressure on Sir Jack by not renewing the work permit of Hannes Babak in December of 2009. Babak had been hand-picked by Sir Jack and Lady Henrietta St. George, widow of the late Edward St. George, who owned 50 percent of the GBPA along with Sir Jack, to be chairman of the GBPA because they felt that, with his strong business acumen and many contacts in Europe, Babak was the best person to continue to attract big investors to Grand Bahama that Edward St. George did so well.
Now that information has surfaced that Ingraham blocked a $1.5 billion development for Grand Bahama, it is absolutely mind-boggling that there are Grand Bahamians who can disregard this deliberate effort to prevent investors from coming to Grand Bahama. This is a complete and utter disgrace that I’m sure those die-hard FNMs who turned out on Sunday to hear Ingraham’s explanation as to why Russell was fired did not fully understand the implications of Ingraham’s spiteful decision.
Another aspect of the firing of Russell that should not sit well with FNM supporters, and certainly with Bahamian people in general, is how Ingraham initially went about informing Russell that he would not be a candidate in the next election.
Almost boastfully, Ingraham recounted at Sunday afternoon’s “mini rally” how we decided to send Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette to inform Russell about his decision. Can you believe the arrogance of this mean-spirited Prime Minister? Throughout his political career, Russell had been one of Ingraham closest allies, yet he decided to send Brent Symonette, who probably only socializes with him because he is Prime Minister, to deliver the bad news to Russell.
And to make matters worse, at Sunday’s “mini FNM rally” he sought to rub it in by boasting that when Symonette brought back Russell’s response, he decided that “this is one cat” that he had to deal with himself. In my view, this man has lost all credibility and believes that he can do whatever he wants as long as there are FNM supporters who still foolishly cling to the belief that “he’s simply the best” leader for this country.
Fortunately, the PLP has positioned itself to win the next election convincingly and end Ingraham’s quest to establish himself as an absolute dictator.