Former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday defended his government’s decision to allow Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) to lease property on Paradise Island for $140,000 per year for 150 years.
“I agree that the standard lease time is 100 years,” he said in the House yesterday.
“I accept that and I am certain that RCCL would have no problem with reverting from 150 to 100 years.”
The land, which is on the western end of Paradises Island, has been the subject of controversy in recent months.
Minnis was responding to Seabreeze MP Leslia Miller-Brice who, during her contribution in the House, blasted the deal.
“When we see deals such as this, we have to be angry,” she said.
She added, “To offer a major cruise line a 150-year [lease]…on Paradise Island is the height of incompetence and disrespect for the Bahamian people.”
Minnis said the plan would have benefitted many Bahamians.
“The benefits certainly outweigh the lease of the property,” he said.
“Madam Speaker, RCCL would embark on a $55 million investment on that particular property. In fact, they are even increasing that. There would be many jobs created for Bahamians. All of the investment on the property itself would be run by Bahamians.
“And RCCL would assist Bahamians with funding to ensure that they are intimately involved.
“In addition to that, Madam Speaker, there would be 80 Bahamians who would be involved in the construction; excellent salaries. Upon completion of the project, there would be an additional 150 to 200 Bahamians who would be hired at a salary of $30,000 to $40,000 per annum. And most importantly, RCCL presently brings about one million tourists to The Bahamas.
“With this project, the
numbers would increase, which would benefit all Bahamians, especially those within the hospitality and tourist industry.”
Bahamian businessman Toby Smith said he planned to develop the land into his own beach club after receiving a letter from the government dated January 7, 2020, agreeing to lease the land to his company, Paradise Island Lighthouse and Beach Club Company Limited.
Royal Caribbean, however, is interested in developing a beach excursion on Paradise Island, noting that it plans to greatly increase the number of passengers it brings into Nassau in the future and citing a need for more options for guests when they leave the ship while in port.
Clint Watson, the press secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, said last week that the Davis administration is looking to reach an amicable resolution over the disputed beachfront property.