The government will not do an “ad hoc” deal with Royal Caribbean International (RCI) when it comes to the cruise line’s proposed Paradise Island project, the government’s Press Secretary Clint Watson said yesterday, adding that Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis has a plan to amicably resolve the dispute between RCI and entrepreneur Toby Smith.
Watson was responding to reports in The Tribune that the Free National Movement (FNM) administration while in power gave a deal to RCI that might not be in the best interest of Bahamians for Crown land on Paradise Island.
He said the the current government has not made a final decision on RCI’s application for its Royal Beach Club.
The Crown land footprint for RCI’s beach club intersects with Smith’s Crown land for his proposed beach club for Paradise Island.
“There is no position by the government yet,” said Watson.
“The issue is the previous government granted two people a lease for the same land. We know you can’t grant two people the same plot of land and so that’s where the first issue lies.”
Watson suggested that Smith’s application for the Crown land would likely hold up in court given that his lease was signed before Royal Caribbean’s.
“Toby Smith, as you would have known in the media, was granted the land first, so by all accounts if you go to court and discuss this, the court will say ‘well who was granted the land first ought to be the one who holds the land.’ So we realize what’s happening even if it went to court.”
According to Watson, the Progressive Liberal Party government has a Bahamians first policy and will always look out for their interest first, but explained that the government is looking for an end to the Crown land dispute on Paradise Island that will leave both parties satisfied.
“What we’re trying to do because of the nature of the situation is find an amicable agreement for both parties,” he said.
“This is not just for both sides, but for the Bahamian people. Bear in mind, this is a prime minister and an administration that thinks about the Bahamian people in every decision, so while you’re dealing with parties on both sides, at the end of the day, it has to be what benefits the Bahamian people in the long run.”
Watson said Davis believes he has a solution to the problem and he will discuss that solution with both sides.
While Royal Caribbean has contended that they think they are close to finalizing a deal on the Paradise Island project, Watson said “there is not ramp-up to a deal yet”.