Davis: Leaked lease agreement is not the same as Post Office deal

Philip Davis, Opposition Leader

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – After a lease agreement was obtained by Eyewitness News, which suggested that former minister for Grand Bahama, Dr. Michael Darville, may have engaged in an alleged conflict of interest, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leader Philip Brave Davis on Thursday expressed that the resurfacing of the lease was a deliberate attempt by the Free National Movement to insinuate that the PLP was hypocritical.

“It was leaked for a particular purpose,” Davis said. “That purpose obviously is to say, “look we are wrong but we are not the only one that maybe wrong.’”

Davis noted, however, that the reported issue was not the same as the controversial Brent Symonette post office deal, as Dr. Darville had no direct involvement in obtaining the contract.

“It was raised by Loretta Butler[Turner] during the last administration. It was discussed and ventilated in Parliament and he [Dr. Darville] indicated that he had no interest.”

The Government’s lease agreement for the building which houses the National Training Agency reveals that the building is reportedly owned by  the brother of Michael Darville, a former minister for  Grand Bahama.

According to the lease, Carl and George Darville, the brother and father of Dr. Darville respectively and the principles of Darville’s Wholesale Limited signed the agreement on June 1st2015, following several amendments to the original deal.

The contract called for the rental of 26,100 square feet from July 20th2015 to expire on July 31st2025 for an estimated 7.5 million dollars.

Yesterday, Minister of Public Service with responsibility for National Insurance and the National Training Agency, Brensil Rolle, said that he was not particularly well informed of the issue.

When asked whether or not he found any fault in the agreement, the Public Service Minister who has responsibility for the NTA said it was not his focus.

“I can’t speak specifically to that at the moment, because I am really not focused on that,” he said. “What I do know is that there is apparently a lease arrangement with the government and the Darville family and I can’t say more than that at the moment.”

Meanwhile, a statement released last night from the Free National Movement (FNM) outlined that yesterday’s lease agreement report comes as no surprise to the people who suffered through five years under the previous PLP Government.

“The latest report details how the Christie Administration secured a contract from the father and brother of Grand Bahama MP Michael Darville in 2014. The ten-year contract will total nearly $11 million before expiring in 2025,” the FNM said.

“It’s also not surprising, just sad, that the PLP didn’t even make an effort to abide by the law through announcing the conflict of interest and passing a resolution, rather in typical PLP fashion, they signed the deal behind closed doors, knowing full well it was a conflict of interest.”

The FNM noted, however, that the Post Office project was publicly addressed in Parliament in an open and transparent way, but the PLP will mock transparency and accountability at every turn because they don’t believe it should apply to them.

“Their latest, nonsensical political attack on the Minnis Administration falls on its face, considering our government took the appropriate steps to disclose and approve of the deal that saved money…,”the FNM said.