Categorized | National News

Gov’t Sued By GB Lawyers

Attorneys Frederick Smith, QC, and Carey Leonard decided to sue the government, as they made an application in the Supreme Court yesterday for a judicial review, following what they called a “flawed” consultation exercise to extend the tax concessions under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.

According to Smith, the judicial review proceedings relate to the actions and decisions of Prime Minister Perry Christie, Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville and Chairman of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement Dr. Marcus Bethel in relation to a fundamentally flawed consultation exercise regarding proposals to amend or extend certain provisions of the HCA and to increase the amount of government revenue raised from Freeport.

The tax concessions granted under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement were set to expire on August 4, but Prime Minister Perry Christie decided to extend them for six months.

Last month, Christie said the decision to extend the concessions came as a result of recommendations from international consultants and a local committee which was selected to review the concessions.

However, Smith and Leonard said the consultation process was flawed because the government failed to provide them and other interested parties with the McKinsey Report.

The McKinsey Report includes a study of the economic situation within the Grand Bahama Port area, the implications of the expiring incentives, and measures which might be taken to spur economic development on the island.

Therefore, the attorneys believe the government is in violation of the principles of proper and lawful consultation by refusing to make this vital report available to the public, or even to the people whom the committee was purporting to consult.

In his affidavit, Smith said the purpose of the committee was not to engage in a proper consultation at all, but merely to “rubber stamp” proposals that the government has already decided upon as it insists to keep secrets from the public.

“Well, I say no more secrets. It is finally time for government in the sunshine,” Smith added.

In addition, the attorneys believe the consultation process was also flawed because they did not have sufficient information to make an informed contribution to the consultation and they were not given an opportunity to make a contribution at a time when the government’s proposals were still at a formative stage.

According to Leonard, he was asked to appear before the Hawksbill Creek Review Committee on April 17, 2015.

But before appearing before the committee, he asked for a copy of the McKinsey Report and unfortunately, Leonard was told that the report was not available for the public.

“As a result of this, I was only able to prepare an outline version of the statement I had been hoping to be able to make to the committee,” Leonard said in his affidavit. “I was unable to proceed further without the information that I assumed would be contained within the McKinsey Report.”

As a result of the “flawed” consultation, the attorneys request that the government provide them with copies of the McKinsey report forthwith.

In addition, they are requesting that the government conduct a fresh consultation process according to law, where all interested parties are given reasonable and sufficient time to consider the report and any other relevant document or information and to formulate a meaningful and informed contribution to the fresh consultation process.

Written by Jones Bahamas

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Watch JCN Channel 14 Shows

Jcn Channel 14

Sign in now to see your channels and recommendations!

Join Us on Facebook