Categorized | National News

No Conflict of Interest In Land Acquisition, Says Gomez

There are no improprieties in the government’s acquisition of 17 acres of land in Central Eleuthera where the government intends to construct a hospital, said State Minister for Legal Affairs Damien Gomez yesterday.

Mr. Gomez spoke to the Journal outside the House of Assembly where he responded to a number of concerns expressed by Montagu Member of Parliament Richard Lightbourn.

Mr. Lightbourn has questioned why the government needed so much land to build the hospital and why it would pay to acquire land when it has thousands of acres of land available to it free of charge.

The Montagu MP also asserted that the land deal was a political pay off for former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) MP Philip Bethell who is one of the owners of the property and suggested there may be a conflict of interest.

But Mr. Gomez said while the acquisition has occurred, there has been no exchange of money.

“At present, no money has changed hands as yet,” he said. “The reason for that is it’s not by agreement, it’s a compulsory acquisition. It is valued by persons who value property and government normally relies on that and if there is a dispute it goes to court and the court determines what the value is.”

Mr. Gomez, who is also the Member of Parliament for Central and South Eleuthera, said the property acquired was chosen because the initial land considered was found to be in a low-lying area near a pond with significant flood risks.

The acquired property sits across the street and is on a hill, he said.

“We made inquires and there were three owners of the land. One of them happened to be Philip Bethell. Philip Bethell is not a member of parliament, he is not a member of the Cabinet and there is no issue of a conflict of interest,” Mr. Gomez said.

“Under the Acquisition of Lands Act there is a transparency procedure for government purchasing and if there is a dispute it goes to court. In those circumstances all of this “controversy” is really unwarranted.

Further Mr. Gomez explained that initially, the government planned to construct three hospitals on Eleuthera – one in the north, one in the central and another one in the southern district of the island, but fiscal challenges led to a restructuring of those plans.

“When we came to office, the financial state of both the national government and the National Insurance Board was in question,” he said. “We determined that it made more sense in those circumstances to build one facility which would cater to all of the districts in Eleuthera.”

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