Friday, April 27, 2012

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham accuses Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie of being a lobbyist for the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC)... which wants to drill for oil in Bahamian waters

Ingraham: Christie is an oil lobbyist

Ingraham attacks PLP’s ‘Bahamians first’ pledge

By Candia Dames
Guardian News Editor

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham last night turned up the heat on Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie, accusing him of being a lobbyist for the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC), which wants to drill for oil in Bahamian waters.

Christie has acknowledged that the oil company has benefited from legal advice he has given as a consultant for Davis & Co., the law firm of PLP Deputy Leader Philip Brave Davis, which represents BPC.

At a rally in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Ingraham spun the PLP’s ‘Bahamians first’ campaign theme, telling the crowd, “For me, putting Bahamians first is a solemn duty.

“It is not a slogan I throw around in order to win votes.  Putting Bahamians first is a duty I have sworn to uphold each time I placed my hand on the Bible and promised to abide by the constitution and protect the interests of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”

The prime minister added, “If Perry Christie really wanted to put you and every other Bahamian first, he would not have agreed to become a paid consultant for a foreign oil company.  This has cast doubt on where his true allegiance will be when it’s decision time.”

Ingraham said his (Ingraham’s) only interest is the interest of Bahamians.

Christie has said he provides advice to the law firm and is not a consultant for BPC directly.  When asked about the issue last week, Christie told The Nassau Guardian, “If there is an issue they need advice on, whether or not they need someone to speak to the issue of environmental impact [studies], the issue of whether or not in my judgment a matter is worthy for the government to approve, whether or not an application is ready, whether or not they should employ and who should go on the board of directors, whatever views they ask of the firm, in the event that firm regards it as necessary, they would consult me on it. Those are the services I provide.”

But Ingraham said last night the service Christie is providing is called lobbying.

“Is it a mere coincidence that a foreign oil company decided to hire as consultants and pay handsomely, the two most senior leaders of the Official Opposition, and potentially two senior leaders of the executive branch in the country in which they are seeking to drill for oil?” he asked.

He told voters they must decide whether they find Christie’s actions acceptable.

“There must be no question or appearance of the possibility of a grave conflict of interest, or the potential for secret deals which can compromise the individual who serves as your prime minister,” Ingraham said.

The prime minister told voters that they should have no doubt where he stands on this issue.

“A government led by me will not agree to any drilling for oil in The Bahamas until all necessary and appropriate regulations are in place, and until we are fully and competently in a position to regulate such activity, so as to protect our environment and that of the world’s ocean beyond from harmful and risky activity in our country and in our waters,” Ingraham said.

“...We are not now in a position to regulate and oversee drilling operations in our waters.  My greatest obligation is to do what I think is the right thing to do at any given time to protect the best interests of you, the Bahamian people, and that of future generations.

“I will not take any deliberate action to cause harm to our country, regardless of the promised financial reward for a select few consultants and legal representatives.  We in the FNM do not go that way.  We accept that we are different, distinctly different from them.”

Ingraham also said Jerome Gomez, the PLP candidate for Killarney, was BPC’s resident country manager before it set up its own office in The Bahamas.

The prime minister told the crowd that elections in difficult economic times demand that leadership be a principal issue.

“These are times for strong and decisive leadership; leadership that will make the tough choices.  This is no time for wavering and waffling,” he said. “This is no time for talk and more talk.  This is a time for action.

“I offer you on behalf of the Free National Movement proven leadership.  I offer you accountable and transparent government.  I offer you clean hands.  I pledge again to you a government that will deliver.”

Apr 26, 2012