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The Chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party Senator Fred Mitchell calls  a decision by the government to lease  the Town Centre Mall from Immigration Minister Brent Symonette “ a shameful naked  conflict of interest.”

In a press statement yesterday, Mr. Mitchell said: “The Government now feathers the nest of the Minister for Immigration with the lease for five years of the Town Centre Mall for temporary quarters for the Post Office. What a shameful naked conflict of interest that no parliamentary or constitutional device or sleight of hand will disguise. This is open and brazen self-dealing.”

Saying that the  PLP opposes this  action,  Mr Mitchell said: “The Government seeks here to invent the wheel. When they came to office all the heavy lifting had been done. The traffic studies, engineering reports, social impact studies, traffic pattern studies had all been completed. The PLP decided to assist a young Bahamian, not born in one of the selected families,  with a Public Private Partnership (PPP) and proceeded to advance the plans in the old Independence Shopping Centre.

“The FNM came along believing their own propaganda and canceled that project, with significant  costs to the public. They announced with great fanfare they were moving  to Gladstone Road without checking the facts. That proved to be a colossal error.

“Without so much as a ” by your leave” they now announce this resolution, the effect of which is to abandon all that has already been done, waste all the money already spent, with a poorly hatched, cooked up scheme to fix up one of their brothers. It is embarrassing. It is shameful, “ said the former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He  said , “the resolution itself is poorly drafted with unnecessary verbiage. Instead of bringing a straight resolution devoid of polemic and arguments in its recitals, they make assertions about history which are simply incorrect and false. Some of these paragraphs are to be left to be stated in the debate not in the body of a resolution. I call on the Speaker of the House to rule them out of order as wholly inappropriate and improper.

“We dispute the rate of 12 dollars per square foot as being a “generous and commercial concessionary rate”. What looks llke a gift, when examined may not be. For example, the building has been empty for years. Now it will be rented, so the Landlord immediately comes out ahead. In five years, Government will have improved the landlord’s property and instead of a depreciated asset, the Landlord will be left with an appreciating asset. So the Government is again arranging a benefit for one of its Cabinet ministers.

“Does the rate include the charges for other costs like air conditioning, parking and maintenance?

“A leopard cannot change its spots. The Prime Minister as Minister of Health  rented a building for the Health Ministry to himself. Brent Symonette sat as a Deputy Prime Minister and negotiated an exclusive port deal in Nassau for himself and other selected families. Mr. Symonette has a previous experience in self dealing when he was removed as Chair of the Airport Authority when a company he owned received a paving contract for the airport.

“This is just like those decisions. We will not support it. It stinks to high heaven,” said Mr. Mitchell.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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