NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Attorney General Ryan Pinder has criticized the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) for inaccuracies and misrepresentations in its response to recent statements by Prime Minister Philip Davis, saying the government’s pursuit of reimbursable expenses does not was not a new idea.
During the contribution to the Senate budget debate, Pinder pointed out that in 2015, under the leadership of Prime Minister Christie, a Hawksbill Review Committee was established to examine issues related to obligations under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement (HCA), including the applicability of Article 1(5) refunds.
“First, it should be clarified that any government claim is based on Article 1(5) of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement. This section has never been modified and remains in full force and effect. Section 1(5) of the HCA requires the GBPA to reimburse the government for costs incurred for certain activities and services, in excess of customs duties and emergency taxes collected. However, the GBPA has not responded to any of our claims for reimbursement of these expenses. The first time we heard about their objection to the amounts we are claiming was in their press release,” Pinder said.
“Furthermore, their assertion that no government has ever prosecuted these amounts is completely false. The GBPA must remember that in 2015, under the leadership of Prime Minister Christie, a Hawksbill Review Panel was formed to review issues related to obligations under the HCA, including the applicability of Article 1(5) refunds The HCA Review Committee, under the former PLP government, even commissioned its own review financial independent of the amounts owed.At that time, the GBPA also resisted the lawsuit and reckoning.
According to Pinder, this led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2016 between the government and the GBPA, which included certain concessions on governance and committed to address all government concerns regarding the section 1(5).
He noted that discussions on Article 1(5) demands continued after the signing of the MoU, but shortly thereafter the PLP lost the general election, resulting in a change of government. According to Pinder, the previous FNM administration abandoned the previous government’s work on this issue and even tried to reverse everything the government had done in favor of GBPA shareholders.
“As you can see, the issue of Article 1(5) is not new. The Christie administration believed that the government was entitled to reimbursement of costs under Article 1(5), and the Brave Davis administration shares the same belief. You would have to ask other jurisdictions why they felt it unnecessary to uphold the rights of the government and people of the Bahamas which were clearly defined in the law and the HCA contract,” Pinder said.
He noted that the government had engaged an internationally recognized and respected accounting firm to calculate the expenses to which it believed it was entitled.
“The method of calculating the expenses was provided to the GBPA, without a response. We understand that they might disagree with the calculations, and that’s fine. The method for such a dispute, however, is not in the public domain with poorly crafted press releases, but through adequate dispute resolution methods found in the HCA,” Pinder said.
Earlier this week, the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) responded to statements by Prime Minister Philip Davis suggesting that increased government bureaucracy and bureaucracy, in violation of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement (HCA), hampered Freeport’s progress.
In his closing remarks during Monday’s budget debate, Prime Minister Philip Davis said GBPA needed a “management and governance change” to achieve real growth and opportunity in Grand Bahama. .
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