NOTE TO EDITORS:
The following statement on behalf of the Progressive Liberal Party was authorized for release from Doha by the Leader of The Opposition — Fred Mitchell, Chairman Progressive Liberal Party
STATEMENT FROM THE PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL PARTY
ON MEDIA REPORTS ON DAMEN SHIPYARDS CONTRACT FOR RBDF
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
13 November 2019
On Monday 11 November 2019, the Chairman released on behalf of the Progressive Liberal Party the following statement:
“This message is delivered to all PLPs and people of goodwill. The FNM through the down market newspaper is in full flight with its anti PLP propaganda campaign.
The facts do not support as we now know them that any PLP official is being investigated for wrong doing in connection with the Damen Shipyard contract. All we know is that the Government of the Netherlands is doing an audit of the contract and its provisions.
The report in today’s newspaper is adding two and two together and making it five. “
We as a party now go further and say that there is no evidence of which we are aware that any PLP official has been involved in these allegations. We expect that the relevant authority at the Ministry of Finance and at the head of the government at that time will in due course make some statement on the entirety as the one au fait with all the facts.
The Party has been briefed on this matter by the relevant government official.
We now go further.
The recent media reports indicate that an investigation is being conducted by the authorities in the Netherlands concerning the award of a contract to the Damen Shipyard Group by the Bahamas Government for the construction of ships and civil works for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
Our brief has advised us of the following:
When the Government was elected in 2012, it met in place a recommendation from our predecessors – the FNM government – that Damen Shipyard Group (DSG) be awarded the contract in question.
The recommendation made to the Government supported the recommendation previously made to the FNM, and was made by the same public officials.
Our advice is that the only payments by the PLP Government were made directly to Damen Shipyards. The process involved tendering and negotiations. The Attorney General’s Office and the Government’s law firm in Washington, Hogan and Lovell advised the government..
The FNM Government which is now in possession of the files should provide full information to the Bahamian Public and they should do so without delay. They should also co-operate fully in that regard with any investigation by the Dutch authorities. There is nothing to hide.
We are advised there were material changes made to the contract which allowed for the repair of vessels that were not functioning when we came to office, for the dredging of the harbour at Gun Point in Ragged Island and at home base in Coral Harbour. The FNM had bought boats that could not dock in their home port in Coral Harbour. The PLP Government also ordered a roll on roll off vessel with emergency equipment to prepare meals, water production and a mini hospital to deal with hurricane relief capability. Those works were properly and transparently approved.
The Progressive Liberal Party suggests that the public officials involved in this matter be called upon to publicly confirm whether they are aware of any influence-peddling or politically-driven lobbying or other improper or irregular conduct involved in or connected to the contract awarded to Damen Shipyard Group (DSG).
As for the party, we repeat that contrary to assertions in the press, there is no evidence that a PLP official is involved in this matter.
This statement is based on advice from our briefing.