The following statement was issued by Chester Cooper, the MP for Exuma and Ragged Island and the Shadow Minister of Finance:
Statement by Chester Cooper, PLP Deputy Leader, Exuma and Ragged Island MP
Government must clarify post-Dorian public private partnerships offer
For Immediate Release
January 15, 2020
Having squandered tremendous goodwill, the government appears so desperate for good news that it would seek to mislead the Bahamian people.
While it is encouraging that so many around the world are reportedly eager to offer assistance to The Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, we are more interested in the details of any potential arrangement struck with and/or offered by foreign entities.
One of the things that stands out most, that was not included in government releases, is a pledge by P3 Group, Inc. for $975 million in financing for various infrastructure projects.
P3’s president is quoted as saying these projects would be revenue-generating in nature and “owned” by P3 until its money is recouped. The president also says over $600 million of the available money could be used for various healthcare projects.
While PPPs have been proven as an effective mechanism through which to finance government infrastructure around the world, with this administration we are always concerned about the details.
Firstly, while P3 might have pledged to make this amount available, it is a very simple manner to call it what it would be – new borrowing.
Additionally, the rate at which this money would be financed and found how long are real concerns, particularly in light of the Minnis administration’s glaring lack of an economic growth strategy for The Bahamas.
We would like to know why this route would be any more feasible than a national investment bond that would allow Bahamians to participate.
The structure of any potential deal must also be carefully vetted and due diligence done on P3 and the financiers.
On which islands would P3 undertake construction?
And what labor would be needed in the construction phase?
Who would manage these assets?
If P3 is allowed to construct what amounts to the entire public healthcare infrastructure of the country, would this ultimately result innew taxes or user fees, given the minimal revenue streams of existing facilities?
And how will this factor into the government’s long-delayed reconfiguration of NHI?
The restoration of Grand Bahama and Abaco are of paramount importance to the country.
Even so, this administration had approached this all in an ad hoc and confusing manner.
Again, an apparent lack of a plan or economic growth strategy for the country is concerning.
The people of The Bahamas need assurances from the government that they are not being fed empty words for show, but there are tangibles with achievable timelines and targets.
We await the details of any agreements to be struck to be debated in Parliament with full transparency.
Whilst we are at it, we ask again that the government be accountable and provide a full account of the pledges and donations received for Dorian and for Hurricane Irma that struck Ragged Island more than two years ago.