The Government’s promise to pay PHC million of dollars to use their facilities once they are completed was “clearly a government back-room deal cut in secret,” Shadow Education Minister Dr Grant Gibbons said.
Dr Gibbons went on to question whether it was fair deal for taxpayers, or was it a “sweetheart deal for BIU and PHC President Chris Furbert?”
He also questioned whether there have been other “secret financial deals that commit taxpayers’ money” that the Government has not disclosed
Last week it was reported that the Education Ministry agreed to pay PHC as much as $10 million, spread over a 20-years, for schools in the area to use the club’s multi-dimensional complex, which has not yet been built. The deal was signed in 2008, and not publicly disclosed by Government.
Government then released a statement saying that they have not committed to provide any funds to PHC until the facility is completed and public school students have access to it.
Responding to Government’s statement, Dr Gibbons said: “In the Ministry of Education’s shockingly brief statement confirming the 20-year, $10 million lease signed with Pembroke Hamilton Club in 2008, they say government “is not committed to provide any funds to the PHC until such time that their facility is completed and public school students have access to it.” They also say, “Regretfully the stories have caused concern in the community.”
“The Ministry doesn’t get it and neither does Dame Jennifer. The reason there is real concern in the community about the PHC deal is that the PLP government, once again, violated basic rules of transparency and good governance.
“If a government commits taxpayer funds, then it has an obligation to disclose it, whether the spending occurs now, in the future or perhaps never,” continued Dr Gibbons.
“This was clearly a government back-room deal cut in secret. It’s the PLP government’s “Uighur” approach to governance – a secret deal with real consequences, unknown to all but a few. And then, at some point, taxpayers have to pick up the pieces and pay the piper.
“So why didn’t the PLP government tell anyone about the deal with PHC when it was signed in 2008? Unfortunately, secrecy leads to speculation and obvious questions. Was the then-Education Minister trying to avoid scrutiny and possible criticism? Was it a fair and reasonable deal for taxpayers?
“Was it a sweetheart deal for BIU and PHC President Chris Furbert? Will the deal still make financial sense to a future government that could be bound by the terms of the contract?
“More importantly, how many other secret financial deals that commit taxpayers’ money has the PLP government not disclosed? If the PLP government won’t disclose a $10 million commitment, what else don’t we know about?
“The public deserves a full explanation now. The Ministry of Education’s statement, presumably released with Dame Jennifer’s approval, is inadequate.
“We call on Minister Smith to bring the lease to the House of Assembly and provide a detailed rationale for it, something that should have been done four years ago,” concluded Dr Gibbons.
The Education Ministry has not yet responded to our request last night for comment, however we will update as able.