PRESS Secretary Clint Watson said the Davis administration would not let Royal Caribbean International lease seven acres of Crown land on Paradise Island for 150 years.
He also said Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis wanted to amicably resolve the disagreement between RCI and Toby Smith, a local entrepreneur who says he has a lease for three of the seven acres of Crown land RCI wants to control.
Mr Smith told reporters that ahead of the election Mr Davis told him he would cancel any proposed deal to lease the seven acres of land to RCI.
Watson, however, said the government did not yet have a concrete position on the issue.
At a press conference yesterday, he said: “The previous government, as you would have known, granted a lease to two people for the same land, Toby Smith as you mentioned, and of course , Royal Caribbean. We know you can’t give two different people the same land.
“Toby Smith … was given the land first.” If you go to court and discuss this, the court will say, “Well, who got the land first should be the one who owns the land” so that we realize what’s going on even though it went to court.
“We have spoken to both sides about this. (The) position has always been known to the Prime Minister and it is primarily the Bahamians. It has not changed, it will not change. The Bahamians’ agenda always comes first.
“What we are trying to do, due to the nature of the situation, is to come to an amicable agreement for both parties, so that everyone is happy with this and, above all, not only for both parties. , but for the Bahamian people. Keep in mind that this is a prime minister and administration that thinks of the people of the Bahamas in every decision. So, while you are dealing with parties on both sides, at the end of the day that has to be what benefits the people of the Bahamas in the long run.
“The Prime Minister says he thinks he has the solution and will discuss it soon with both sides and we are waiting to see their response on this, but he thinks he has something that will benefit both sides, but in the end will also benefit the people.
Mr. Smith is behind a $ 2 million investment in the adjacent Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club project. In a pending court case, he alleges that he holds a valid Crown land lease for two parcels of land included in RCI’s Crown land lease. He says his lease is legally binding.
Tribune Business reported this week that the Minnis administration, in an agreement signed on May 25, 2021, effectively granted RCI a 150-year lease on the seven acres of land.
Mr Watson said: “Now Royal Caribbean owns land, about 13 acres and then the seven acres it was looking to lease from the government. What you also need to understand is that we are not going to do any ad hoc crazy transactions. We would have seen the stories in your newspaper about these leases that last for years and so on. This is not what is going to be the result for the people of the Bahamas, for this administration.
“There is no conclusion of an agreement yet, there is not yet a finalization of an agreement for the two parties.”