The projected expenditure of the Bahamas Public Parks and Beaches Authority increased by nearly 150 percent in the months leading up to the September 16 general election due to the award of contracts, Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said yesterday.
Davis slammed the former Minnis administration over this “reckless and irresponsible” decision and vowed that “they will be held to account”.
“In the 2021/22 fiscal year, [the Bahamas Public Parks and Beaches Authority] had an approved budget of $15.2 million,” Davis, who is also the minister of finance, said as he led off debate on the supplementary budget.
“After contingencies, its total budget was around $28 million, an increase of 86 percent against budget.
“An increase that coincided with electioneering. I am now told that because of new contracts issued in the months of July, August and September of this year, the projected expenditure of the authority for this fiscal year is $37 million from $15 million. That’s an increase of almost 150 percent against the budgeted amount and, in dollars, it’s an increase of $22 million. Recalling now, Parliament only authorized $15.2 million.
“I want that to sink in for a moment. I also want it to sink in that a number of these contracts were awarded to clean middle and high-end subdivisions, like Blair and Westridge, just to name a few.
“The member for St. Barnabas will undoubtedly have a lot of explaining to do. As a result of this reckless and irresponsible behavior by the member, as of September 30th, 2021 after only four months into the fiscal budget – and we have eight more months left – the authority had already utilized more than 60 percent of its budget for the entire year. I remind you eight months still remains.
“Guess what? The roadside contracts in Killarney had risen to almost $400,000 and more.
“I suppose that none of this should be surprising when we remember $20 million on sidewalks at the height of the pandemic, when hospitals were collapsing and Bahamians were homeless and hungry.
“Even so, the truth of it all will be revealed, and they will be held to account for their reckless decisions, made for short-term political benefit at the expense of the country.”
The issue was first raised two weeks ago by Minister of Public Works Alfred Sears.
Sears, who was responding to a question by East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson, said there was a “rash of contracts” issued by the authority and that some were issued without board approval.
Sears also said that some contracts were duplicated.
St. Barnabas MP Shanendon Cartwright, the former executive chairman of the authority, has defended his tenure. He said there was nothing sinister about the duplication of contracts and that there was no “mad rush” of contracts issued before the general election.