Hubert Minnis’ blatant hypocrisy on public-private partnerships
Three years after he cancelled several Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) left in place by the Christie Administration, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has finally seen the light and announced his government will now implement a PPP program to carry out capital works on the family islands.
This new strategy is a result of the Minnis Administration’s decision to cut funding for planned upgrades to airports on Exuma, Long Island, North Eleuthera and Abaco.
However, Minnis did not see the value in public-private partnerships in 2017 and 2018 when he abruptly cancelled the PPP already in place for the Harbour Island Administrative Complex. The company selected to construct the complex had already mobilized, started work and was due to be paid when Minnis pulled the plug despite millions of dollars already being spent.
The project included a police station, courts and clinic.
The same applied to the Post Office project at Independence Drive Shopping Centre, which was also cancelled.
The initial Memorandum of Understanding for the Post Office PPP was signed by the developer and the PLP Government in early December 2016 and construction work at the site was well underway.
Instead of moving ahead with his predecessor’s plan to build a new post office on New Providence using the PPP model, Minnis signed a multi-million dollar lease agreement with his then cabinet minister Brent Symonette to use the Town Centre Mall, which the FNM MP owns with his brother.
The government remained exposed to pay out both of those contracts while Minnis played politics.
The former government also entered into a public-private partnership for a $25 million Eight Mile Rock office complex.
By entering PPPs, the Christie Administration’s intent was to meet its real estate and infrastructure needs without the added burden on the Public Treasury.
Had Minnis allowed those partnerships to remain in place, those family island projects would have been nearing completion and the country would’ve been much further along.
Critics have questioned how the Minnis government managed to wiggle out of those deals but could not get out of the government’s deal with Bahamas Petroleum Company, which is currently conducting exploratory oil drilling off the coast of Andros despite a recent legal challenge by local environmental groups.