NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands yesterday stressed the public private partnership proposed by The P3 Group Inc for restoration efforts post-Dorian was still in the infancy stage.
The company has pledged $975 million under a lease purchase agreement that could see it 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.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Sands insisted the government has made no commitment on the matter.
“I think people are jumping to conclusions,” he said.
“We have not agreed on the way forward. A pledge was made; an offer was made.
“The government of The Bahamas will now look at that and determine what is in the best interest of the people of The Bahamas and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
“We have signed no agreement. We have committed no contract. There’s no heads of agreement. It is a conceptual idea.
“It is wonderful to have the offer, but now we have to decide whether we are going to accept the offer and on what terms.”
The pledge represented 65 percent of $1.5 billion pledges raised for recovery funding and in-kind services at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Hurricane Dorian Private Sector Pledging Conference on Monday.
More than 300 local and international delegates attended the pledge conference at the Baha Mar resort.
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.
“The preliminary pledge is a wonderful first step, but there’s a lot of work that now goes from that pledge to execution,” Sands said.
“The United Nations Development Program would have asked us whether or not we had anything on our wish list.
“Particularly to look at climate resilient health facilities, and we would have answered with a formal proposal, that looked at a climate resilient hospital in Grand Bahama.
“I have said it, the minister of finance has said it, the prime minister has said, that we need a new hospital in Grand Bahama.
“But we also recognize that Princess Margaret Hospital – the nation’s premier health facility – is potentially vulnerable given the new normal climate change.
“So we thought that because we have the first tower up, that perhaps we needed to complete the renovation of Princess Margaret Hospital.”
Sands said all of those ideas were incorporated into a wish list for the UNDP and interests were expressed.
“Now that translates into a discussion, who, what, when, why, how, and I think we the public will just have to watch and see this unfold,”
Sand’s comments come as Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper called on the government to clarify the offer.
“While PPPs have been proven as an effective mechanism through which to finance government infrastructure around the world, with this administration we are always concerned about the details,” Cooper said in a statement.
“Firstly, while P3 might have pledged to make this amount available, it is a very simple manner to call it what it would be – new borrowing.
“Additionally, the rate at which this money would be financed and found how long are real concerns, particularly in light of the Minnis administration’s glaring lack of an economic growth strategy for The Bahamas.”
Cooper insisted that the potential deal must also be carefully vetted and due diligence done on the company and the financiers.
“The people of The Bahamas need assurances from the government that they are not being fed empty words for show, but there are tangibles with achievable timelines and targets,” he added.
“We await the details of any agreements to be struck to be debated in Parliament with full transparency.”