NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Tourism minister Dionisio D’Aguilar shot down assertions made by former aviation minister Glenys Hanna-Martin, who suggested that government’s move to give Disney the green light to roll out its multi-million-dollar development for Lighthouse Point Eleuthera is “pathetic and shameful” as the agreement lacked transparency and showed no benefits for Bahamians.
But D’Aguilar shot down those assertions yesterday as baseless.
“We think that it was a good deal,” he said.
“South Eleuthera for many years has been impoverished and we feel that it is important to create opportunities for that community. What was amazing is that the people of South Eleuthera were seemingly very supportive of it.”
D’Aguilar said it is important that the government does not delay the progress of a deal that could potentially change the lives of South Eleutherans.
“It’s important to get spades in the ground to get the deal done,” he said.
“Mrs. Hanna-Martin is probably someone who takes a while to make the deal.
“We feel it’s important to make the deal, get the spades in the ground, people employed and empowering people. We think it’s a good deal.”
In a press statement issued Tuesday, Hanna-Martin said the Minnis-led administration, “failed miserably to negotiate a fair and equitable arrangement for the Bahamian people or to ensure that opportunities are maximized for the Bahamian people.”
The statement continued, “A project which was chosen over a competitor with Bahamian involvement and which attracted so much controversy and which encompasses perhaps one of the most beautiful spots on earth should have been diligently negotiated to yield high performing economic opportunities for our people and contained stringent environmental provisions.
“In particular, the agreement lacks transparency in that it does not disclose the amount of crown land by way of seabed being leased for 100 years to Disney.
“This is a major concern.”
Hanna-Martin labelled the deal as a “giveaway” to Disney.
“By contrast, the benefits to the Bahamian people seem peripheral and couched in vague and indeterminate language,” Hanna-Martin opined.
“There is no secure and firming protection of any economic benefit to the Bahamian people.
“This could have been an opportunity to hold the Bahamian people high and guarantee a greater share of the economic pie in deals with foreign investors, the likes of billionaire multinational giants such as Disney. Sadly, it is not.”