Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said on Monday night that the government will table the General Post Office’s lease for the Town Centre Mall.
His comments came after Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin asked Wells to reveal how much government is spending to lease the Town Centre Mall to house the General Post Office. She also asked that the lease be tabled in the House of Assembly.
“Mr. Chair, the rent is $12 per square foot as was debated in this House,” Wells said.
“We know that the resolution gave the government of The Bahamas the permission to rent up to 75,000 square feet. The government has not taken all of that as the square footage is about 37,000 square feet.
“So, the member [for Englerston] can work it out. At the end of the day, the government will take it under advisement as to whether or not we will lay the lease.”
He said the government is seeking to mitigate a “discrepancy”.
However, he did not indicate what that discrepancy is.
Central and South Andros MP Picewell Forbes, who serves as leader of opposition business in the House, said, “The government promised to lay that lease on that table.”
Wells responded, “The government will lay the lease.”
He continued, “At the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, the member for Englerston brought up the issue of a member sitting in Cabinet being given a contract.
“I want the member of Englerston to be aware that she is the daughter of a founding father of this nation who sat and wrote the constitution of The Bahamas and that constitution gives any member, who is a member of this House of Assembly, the right to enter a government contract once that member declares to this House.”
In October 2018, Parliament passed a resolution for the government to enter into a lease agreement with the landlords of the mall for the relocation of the post office.
The mall is owned by St. Anne’s MP Brent Symonette and his brother. Symonette resigned from Cabinet last year for reasons he said were unconnected to the matter.
The original plan was for the post office to be open by Christmas 2018, but it opened in late May 2019.
The decision to relocate the operation has been met with controversy with Symonette facing conflict of interest claims, despite the fact that he declared his interest in Parliament.