Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis is expected to speak today in the House of Assembly (HOA) on the controversial Oban Energies heads of agreement that has dominated headlines in the press for the past several weeks.
Despite backlash from members of the Official Opposition, the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), the business community and environmentalists, the prime minister has yet to respond to questions surrounding the deal.
Last week, during the signing of a $45 million contract for the revitalization of the Harbour Island Marina and Resort, Dr. Minnis told members of the press, he will “address the issue” during the wrap of if the mid-year budget debate.
“I said I will address the OBAN matter when I speak in Parliament,” Dr. Minnis said.
“So, the entire nation can hear me live, not only the nation but the world also.”
It has been three weeks since it was revealed that Peter Krieger, the non-executive chairman of the $5.5 billion project, did not sign his own name on the heads of agreement, instead signing the name of Satpal Dhunna, the company’s president.
Krieger was also involved in two lawsuits alleging misuse of investor monies.
When asked about the controversy surrounding Krieger in February, Dr. Minnis said the revelations “were not new”.
“These are matters that were dealt with by former governments,” he told the press.
“They had done their necessary due diligence. We completed the heads of agreement.”
In a statement last Monday, the BNT said it would “never support” the Oban deal, which was not required to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) before the agreement was signed.
BNT said the proposed location for the refinery is in close proximity to three national parks – the Lucayan National Park, the East Grand Bahama National Park, and the North Shore – the Gap National Park.
“The BNT has asked the government to provide the exact location of the site and to see the full HOA. We have also asked for the opportunity to weigh in on the EIA before completion,” the statement said.
Opposition Leader Phillip Davis also said he would not support the deal. In fact, Davis said the agreement would be scrapped if the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) won the next general election.