PM: ‘I will not apologize’ for telling Eleuthera first
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday that he will not apologize for choosing to reveal that the government signed a heads of agreement with Disney Cruise Line for a controversial project during a town hall meeting on Eleuthera.
The prime minister has come under fire from the opposition and environmental groups for signing the deal “in the dead of the night”.
The government signed the agreement on March 7, but did not publicize the matter until March 9 during a town hall meeting on Eleuthera.
The media was not invited to cover the signing.
“There was some concern about us making the announcement first in Eleuthera,” Minnis said, moments before he tabled the heads of agreement in the House of Assembly.
“We thought it was appropriate, Mr. Speaker, that …we show complete respect for the community and they should have been the first to hear the changes that were coming.”
Minnis said he feels that “out of respect” islands affected by certain investments should know what is happening.
“So I do not apologize to anyone for respecting the population of south Eleuthera in such a manner,” he said.
The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation, reEarth, Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas released a joint statement expressing their disappointment in the government over the matter.
“We are very disappointed that such a signing was made in the dead of night, but we are pleased that Disney and the government have confirmed that no construction will take place at Lighthouse Point until the environmental impact assessment (EIA) is prepared, reviewed and approved,” the groups said.
Opponents to Disney’s development had expressed concern about the project potentially destroying the ecological and cultural assets of local environments, the project stripping locals of access to beaches and public spaces and not stimulating the local economy.
The government has said that the construction of the port will not start until an EIA and environmental management plan have been reviewed and approved.
The development is expected to cost between $250 million and $400 million.
The agreement mandates that Disney directly employ at least 120 Bahamians during the construction of the project.
Disney has also committed to an overall ratio of 80 percent Bahamian workers to 20 percent non-Bahamian workers during the life of the construction phase of the project.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications
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