Bahamas: Government to lay agreement with Disney in Parliament

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Bahamas: Government to lay agreement with Disney in Parliament
Prime MInister Dr. Hubert Minnis (center) at the signing ceremony of the heads of agreement with Disney Island Development Limited (BGIS Photo)
Prime MInister Dr. Hubert Minnis (center) at the signing ceremony of the heads of agreement with Disney Island Development Limited (BGIS Photo)

NASSAU, Bahamas, Mar 12, CMC – The Bahamas government says it will lay in Parliament next week, the heads of agreement signed with Disney Island Development Ltd for the multi-million-dollar development at Lighthouse Point, in South Eleuthera:

“In the interest of transparency and accountability the Heads of Agreement signed with Disney Island Development, Ltd on Thursday, March 7, 2019 will be tabled at the earliest meeting of the House of Assembly, on Wednesday, March 20, 2019,” according to a statement released by the Office of the Prime Minister.

The statement comes after Opposition Leader, Philip Brave Davis, said the Hubert Minnis administration had “once again failed the test of openness and transparency and flubbed the example of open government”.

Davis accused Prime Minister Minnis of having signed in “secret” the Disney deal last Thursday, saying “no cameras or outsiders were allowed save for the government’s minders and mouthpieces.

“The public found out by a release from the Bahamas Information Services. The PLP (Progressive Liberal Party) would never have gotten away with this and never tried to.

“So the questions arise: is this a secret deal with Disney? Disney is a publicly traded company and ought to know better than to sign a deal in secret,” Davis said.

But in its statement, the Office of the Prime Minister noted that the government had announced the signing of the heads of agreement at a Town Hall meeting in South Eleuthera on March 9 and that “immediately following the announcement, the Office of the Prime Minister released an extensive press release outlining key points of the Heads of Agreement”.

The statement said that “this project is line with the government’s plan to expand the economy of our country and economic opportunities for our people by promoting development in the Family Islands.

“I want to assure all Bahamians of the Government’s commitment to act in the best interest of Bahamians, at all times, in an accountable and transparent manner,” Minnis added.

The authorities say that the development has a projected investment of between US$250 and US$400 million and that Disney has completed acquisition of the property from the private seller.

Approximately 190 acres of the land purchased from the private seller, including the southernmost point of the property, will be conveyed to the government of The Bahamas for conservation and a national park with the appraised value of the land donation estimated at US$6.29 million.

Core elements of the proposed project include low density development and sustainable design, public access and economic opportunities for Bahamians.

Under the agreement, Disney will ensure a minimum of 120 Bahamians are employed directly during the construction of the project and it has also committed to aim for an overall ratio of 80 per cent Bahamian workers to 20 percent non-Bahamian workers during the life of the construction phase of the project.

It is also promising to create as many as 150 permanent, sustainable jobs with health benefits in a range of positions for Bahamians once construction is completed.

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