Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said yesterday that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has dispelled one of the government’s biggest criticisms of the Ingraham administration, which claimed that the former government mismanaged the multi-million dollar New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP).
Just recently the government inked a contract to borrow $65 million from the bank to complete the works that have been dragging on over the past two years.
But in surprise move, IDB Caribbean Department General Manager Gerad Johnson said that due diligence was done in the project and that “it was very complete.”
“It was viewed by many eyes including independent eyes. The important thing is that at the end of that process, the benefits continue to far outweigh the cost – even the increased cost. That is the bottom line to why the IDB board approved it and that’s the bottom line as to why we are proud to be sitting here today to sign it,” Mr. Johnson said at the time.
In a press statement sent yesterday, Mr. Cash said the IDB has analysed the road works to death and determined that the additional cost was worth it.
“The FNM has no doubt that if this project was an unmitigated disaster, as the PLP government said before the general elections and indeed just recently in Parliament, the IDB would not be proud of it and would likely not have approved the new loan,” he said.
“What was equally gratifying was the admission by the IDB representative that these types of overruns are entirely reasonable for projects of this nature that take place in urban areas.”
Mr. Cash said Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis also grudgingly appeared to echo the IDB’s statements.
“The IDB representative spoke of the IDB’s experience in Brazil, Columbia and Trinidad where they have learned that major challenges are possible and have learned that major challenges are possible and have to be anticipated, but only to a degree,” he said.
“The FNM believes in the IDB’s reasonable and prudent approach, but we concede that in some respects, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis remains in denial. While we are pleased that the DPM has finally had the courage to speak openly about the legitimacy of the reasons for cost overruns, we take little comfort in his admission. Regrettably the Bahamian people are worse off because of the path on which Mr. Davis and his party took the public discourse.”
Mr. Cash said during the election the PLP Government carried a sustained and reckless campaign of blame and implied charges of corruption.
“The Bahamian people were left with the lasting but false impression that public funds were being squandered.
“Rather than helping the then FNM Government to sensitise our people about the need for short-term pain in preparation for long-term gain, Mr. Davis’s party exploited their frustrations and inconveniences for purely political gain, Mr. Davis’ party exploited their frustrations and inconveniences for purely political gain. As the nation seeks to undertake immigration reform and transformation of our tax, education and civil service regimes, the FNM will endeavour to take the high road that elevates the national discussion. We hope that the PLP will join us there.”