Queen’s Counsel Urges Baha Mar Stakeholders To Ask For Judicial Review
Fred Smith, from the Queen’s Counsel (QC) has called on opposition parties in the Bahamas and the stakeholders of the bankrupt Baha Mar casino to demand a judicial review of the Bahamian government’s recent agreement with Export-Import Bank of China (CEXIM), the project’s primary financial backer for the resumption of operations.
Smith made these comments in the wake of opposition party Free National Movement (FNM) asking for the government to reveal details of the secretive agreement. Prime Minister Perry Christie had entered into an undisclosed agreement with EXIM towards the end of August and confirmed that construction worked on the stalled project would commence from September.
Smith stated that while he was happy to learn that work would finally begin on the $3.5 billion Baha Mar casino resort, which is a critical project for economy and people of the Bahamas, he wasn’t very impressed with how the ruling government went about closing the deal. Both the government and EXIM had asked the Supreme Court to keep the details of the agreement private.
In a statement Smith said,
These heads of agreements that are entered into by the government secretly, and are binding agreements, I say are unconstitutional, are in breach of the separation of powers doctrine and are completely outside the lawful power of the executive branch of government.
He said that given that agreement is related to the liquidation process, the details may not be disclosed publicly but Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder who is presiding on the case can issue necessary directions to use other means such as judicial review to assess the agreement terms. Smith urged any interested party related to the project to move the Court for a judicial review stating that they had a right be informed as they were impacted by it.
He highlighted the fact that there was no act that allows the Office of the Prime Minister or the National Economic Council (NEC) to enter into any form of secret agreement that could offer special concessions to vendors.
Minister of education Jerome Fitzgerald earlier assured that the agreement would not be kept sealed indefinitely but so far there is no information as to when these details will be made public. Opposition leader Dr Hubert Minnis of the FNM had said that since the Bahamian government had entered into the agreement on behalf of the public, details of the agreement must be revealed.
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