Forrester J Carroll J.P/ BP Grand Bahama Correspondent
Freeport, Grand Bahama — The Ingraham Administration’s, “Stop, Review and Cancel” policy has claimed its latest victim and, in the process, has caused to be terminated the only, active, Investment project left on the island of Eleuthera.
Mr. Michael Reardon, vice-president and one of the principal investors in the Eleuthera-based Sky Beach Club project, pulled no punches and gave no quarter when telling Tribune Business writer, Mr. Neil Hartnell, how the Ingraham Administration pulled the rug right from under him, when they refused to allow imports, for the ongoing construction of his facility, to continue to be admitted “duty free” as approved under the original “Heads of Agreement” signed with the Christie Administration. He promised to file a writ in the Supreme Court, as early as, this week (16th Nov) against the FNM government for breach of contract.
Mr. Reardon went into great detail, to tell the horror story of how Ingraham suddenly and without much notice, changed his Christie-approved “duty free” status, to where he was obliged to pay-over a several month period-around $200,000.00 in customs duties. This in contravention, he submitted, of the terms and conditions set out in the “heads of agreement” signed in 2006 under the PLP government. Mr. Reardon alluded to the problem being (he said Ingraham said) that the approval under the “Hotels Encouragement Act” was not in place and therefore he was not entitled to the incentives. His lawyers, he said, submitted the necessary paperwork in compliance with the Ingraham government’s request, since February this year, but still the Prime Minister has yet to give the document his approval. The Prime Minister, Mr. Reardon said, has also failed to honor his commitment to approve, for refund, the $200,000.00 he paid in customs duties in the meantime, resulting in his decision-six months ago-to terminate the project, and now to initiate litigation against the FNM Administration. What was Ingraham’s response to Mr. Reardon’s charges? No comment, of course, for that is how his Administration deals with matters which come to light, that reflect negatively on his Administration.
The project had its groundbreaking ceremonies in January 2007, after the signing of the “Heads of Agreement” in 2006. The Developers were able to import, during the Christie Administration, all their construction material, furniture, fixtures and all other such supplies for the resort “duty free,” according to Mr. Reardon, but their trouble began when the government changed in May of 2007 and the policy of, “stop, review and cancel” was adopted by the Free National Movement. “We thought we had an agreement with the Bahamas government; we thought we had a democratic society here; this doesn’t make sense to me,” said a disappointed and obviously disgusted, Mr. Reardon. He furthered, “From our experience, we would never have done this deal if we had known this would take place-that a change in power (government) would affect our agreement with the Bahamas (government). I don’t think Perry Christie would, ever, have done this to us” unquote; you gat that right, my brother.
It should be noted that “Heads of Agreements,” when consummated and signed off by both parties, would, as a rule, incorporate the general incentives and conditions binding on those parties. Therefore, while the follow-through with the paperwork to affect the “Hotels encouragement Act” is a necessary step in the process, it is not a necessary component in allowing materials and or supplies to be admitted “duty free “in the meantime, as that aspect would have already been agreed, by the parties concerned. I, therefore, submit that if the Free National Movement government , led by “stop, review and cancel” Hubert Ingraham, wished honestly to work with this Investor, in good faith, they would have done so and the man would not have been required to pay any duties, at all, except on those items which fall outside of the Agreement. It is that damn, “Stop, Review and Cancel” policy of theirs that got in the way again. So they have now killed off the last economic hope for Eleuthera and I say may its soul rest in peace.