Both the prime minister and the minister of tourism and aviation yesterday assured that the request for proposals (RFP) process for the redevelopment of Nassau’s cruise port will be fair and as transparent as possible.
Worries have arisen over the government’s ability to be unbiased in the bidding process for the redevelopment of Nassau’s cruise port as the RFP period comes to a close this Friday. It opened two months ago.
Concerned parties, who spoke to Guardian Business under condition of anonymity, pointed to the government’s admission that there were inconsistencies with the RFP process for temporary power generation for BPL; the government’s handling of the Oban deal for an oil refinery and storage facility on Grand Bahama; and the concerns raised by the public over the contract given to a sitting Cabinet minister for use of his and his family’s building, the Town Centre Mall, to house the General Post Office, as reasons they are concerned about the bidding process.
They are also concerned by the fact that the government initiated the RFP process after receiving an unsolicited bid for the redevelopment of the cruise port by an already influential and established consortium.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis told reporters yesterday that the “entire process has been fair and we will make it as transparent as the world allows”.
Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar, who has championed the liberalization of the cruise port since coming to office a year and a half ago, told Guardian Business yesterday that a committee of civil servants and industry professionals from the private sector will be selected to vet the bids. That committee has not yet been chosen, he said.
“Every single public tendering process goes through the exercise,” D’Aguilar said. “It will be a very open and transparent process.”
According to D’Aguilar, the government’s only interest is to upgrade the quality of Nassau’s cruise port, and he insisted there has been no “pre-decision” on the right bid for the port.
“This is not something already decided and we’re trying to pretty it up,” he said.
“Ultimately, we want to end up with a first-class cruise port to compete with other cruise ports throughout the Caribbean.”
He said this country’s cruise port should match the grandiosity of the new class of cruise ships, but does not in its current state.