Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Carl Culmer said yesterday that he is a part of a company that is seeking to manage various cultural sites in The Bahamas, including the Water Tower and the forts.
The Guardian reached out to Culmer after Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis said he heard that the government was seeking to “divest itself” of cultural heritage sites in The Bahamas to an entity whose principals include “the chairman of the FNM”.
Davis made the comment in the House of Assembly last night.
He added, “We don’t see any apparent benefits from such arrangement.
“…You can confirm whether that is so and whether your friends are now part of that entity and what impact that has on this corporation.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis replied, “…We can see what happened to the tower. We can see [the] deterioration of the forts, etc. It’s the government’s view and opinion that these should be managed by private sector but, at the same time, still owned by government.
“And there would’ve been various different bids for such management and I think some came in even under yourself being led by one of your senior personnel. Unfortunately, he passed away but he was a part of the management team.”
Davis confirmed that proposals were made during his time as deputy prime minister but the previous administration never went along with them.
“You haven’t confirmed whether, one, the chairman of the FNM is part of the grouping to which you have ceded management and you have not confirmed whether your national coordinator for election is one of those members to whom you have ceded management,” Davis said.
Minnis said the legal proceedings with the entity are not completed.
As a result, the sites are still in the hands of the government, he said.
“Once the legal terms are completed and agreed to, yes, you will know,” Minnis said.
“Nothing is yet in law.”
“The government is still of the opinion that the government cannot manage efficiently the forts, the towers, etc.,” Minnis said.
“These are touristic attractions and we have allowed them to deteriorate. We must make a decision whether we continue to allow them to deteriorate or put them in adequate and responsible hands, so that the government and the people of The Bahamas can benefit from it.”
Culmer said several PLPs are also a part of the group.
“This company ain’t just formed,” Culmer told The Nassau Guardian.
“It’s a company that has been formed for quite some time. It’s all Bahamians. It’s a company where we saw that the forts were neglected and we went out and we have borrowed money to fix the forts, to make them tourist attractions and it’s something that we have to pay back.”