Critics of $975m public-private partnership pledge misinformed, says Minnis

Critics of $975m public-private partnership pledge misinformed, says Minnis
Prime Minister Minnis Dr. Hubert Minnis

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday sought to clarify what he labeled as confusion and misinformation surrounding the $1.5 billion in pledges raised for restoration efforts post-Dorian.

More than 300 local and international delegates attended the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) pledge conference at the Baha Mar resort on Monday.

Among the pledges made was a $975 million public private partnership, proposed by United States-based P3 Group Inc for restoration and rebuilding efforts under a lease purchase agreement.

“I have noticed some confusion in the public sphere as to what a pledging conference is and what these commitments mean,” Minnis said, during his keynote address at Bahamas Business Outlook 2020. 

“Unfortunately, some who were not present at the event seem very confused and very poorly informed.

“Had they informed themselves, they would not have made silly, confused and uninformed statements in the press.”

He continued, “Some, who have an obligation to be more responsible, are irresponsibly making up false narratives of what happened.

“Again, some seem not to understand what transpired or the nature of a donor conference.

“The international community has come forward with various offers and pledges.

“It is up to the Government of The Bahamas to carefully review these pledges and to decide what is best for The Bahamas and for the people and communities in affected areas.”

The agreement proposed by the P3 Group could see the company owning whatever project it invests in until the government can repay the money through revenue gained.

Among the proposed investments is $670 million for healthcare facilities.

However, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands has insisted that the proposal is still a conceptual idea and discussions on the matter are ongoing.

In a statement calling on the government to clarify the offer, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Chester Cooper expressed concerns surrounding the details of the potential deal.

He noted that the pledge was nothing more than “new borrowing”, adding that the “rate at which this money would be financed and how long are real concerns, particularly in light of the Minnis administration’s glaring lack of an economic growth strategy for The Bahamas.”

According to the government, the pledges included initiatives in home-building and repair; educational assistance; renewable energy partnerships; relief aid; grants; direct assistance to storm victims; parks restoration; loans and financing.

Minnis noted yesterday that the pledges made will aid in the government’s overall reconstruction plans.

“The government has already prepared specific reconstruction delivery plans, which have been cross referenced with the damage and loss assessment,” he said.

“We have addressed six sectors: housing; the environment and debris clean up; education; health; infrastructure; and the economy.

“From these reconstruction delivery plans, we have identified and prepared specific project concepts.

“The government of The Bahamas is utilizing quite a number of avenues to address these priorities, including its own resources, as well as pledges from domestic and international partners.”

Hurricane Dorian ravaged parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco from September 1 – 3, claiming the lives of at least 70, leaving thousands displaced and still an unknown amount missing.