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Davis: Table Town Centre Mall lease

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday called on the government to table the five-year lease agreement it signed for the relocation of the General Post Office to the Town Centre Mall. 

The government passed a resolution to lease the space on October 24, 2018 from St. Anne’s MP Brent Symonette and his brother. 

The matter surrounding the post office was reignited following Symonette’s resignation from Cabinet – which he has said is unconnected to the matter – and revelations that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis called him directly to discuss the government’s plan to rent the space.

“I want to know where is the lease for the Town Centre Mall that we are spending our tax money for,” Davis asked during his contribution to debate on amendments to the Gaming Act. 

According to Symonette, the lease was signed last Friday, nearly two months after the post office was moved to the Town Centre Mall.

“Most times when government rents a building, it takes a while before the lease physically gets done between the landlord and the tenant working it out,” Symonette told The Nassau Guardian on Monday.

“There was a need for getting this building built.”

Davis’ comments in Parliament sparked a back and forth with House Speaker Halson Moultrie over the issue possibly prejudicing court matters. 

The opposition is considering seeking a judicial review of the resolution to lease the space, while businessman Scott Godet, who had entered into a public-private partnership with the government under the Christie administration for the creation of a new building to house the post office, is suing the government for violating that agreement, according to Damian Gomez, QC.

But Davis maintained yesterday that he was seeking clarification about representations made in the House on the post office matter. 

“In fact, Mr. Speaker, you are charged more responsibly than me as a member to ensure that what goes on in this House is true,” Davis said.

“In fact, I would expect you, Mr. Speaker, to raise this matter and say, ‘Look, I see somewhere this was said in the House and this is now being said and uttered by members.’”

However, Moultrie ruled that the post office matter can no longer be discussed in Parliament. 

“In my estimation, we are dealing with a double-edged sword here,” Moultrie said.

“We don’t want to act in a way that could prejudice the outcome of a matter before the courts.

“I don’t want to put the Parliament in the position where that argument could be put that the speaker permitted matters to be discussed in this Parliament that had a prejudicial effect on the case.

“So, we are dealing with a double-edged sword here and out of an abundance of caution the chair rules that no discussion [take place] with respect to the lease of the Town Centre Mall, which I understand is an issue before the courts…

“That is the ruling and any attempt to put anything on the record in that regard will be expunged.”  

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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