Feb 27, 2023

On Monday, 6th February 2023 while in Parliament, Prime Minister Davis finally acknowledged that he was briefed on the Hedge Program and decided against it. This admission confirmed that he misled Parliament on the matter earlier. Furthermore, in his attempt to deny that he and Minister Sears had cost the Bahamian people tens of millions of dollars because of their decision not to continue the program, he once again misled the public by claiming that the 150 million dollars owed by BPL to Shell was legacy debt( old bills incurred by the FNM).

His comments about the Hedge Program and the Rate Reduction Bond were untruthful and misleading and are a further attempt to conceal that they made bad decisions that cost the Bahamian people millions which has now resulted in increasingly high electricity bills.

The particulars are clear and irrefutable: As been reported publicly, the Prime Minister stood on his feet and told the House of Assembly on 26th October, 2022 that he obtained no policy recommendations on what to do with the BPL hedge. He said at the time: “No recommendation came to me….There was no recommendation that I was aware of”. This is what the Prime Minister said at the time on his feet.

Prime Minister Davis then doubled down when talking to the press on 22nd November, 2022 when asked about the BPL fuel hedge, the Prime

Minister said: “I had no knowledge of it….I saw no documents about that.”

Come yesterday, 6th February, 2023, the Prime Minister now admits that he indeed received policy advice on the BPL fuel hedge but that his government made the conscious decision not to take what he labeled as a “forward bet” on a fuel hedge. He said: In September 2021, we decided to deal with the emergency in front of us rather than making a forward bet, a forward gamble. It was a reasonable decision”.

The Prime Minister initially told Parliament and then the press late last year that he saw no recommendations and no documents related to the fuel hedge and that he had no knowledge of it.. But yesterday, we got a completely different story that he and his government made the deliberate decision back in September 2021 not to pursue the fuel hedge.

This recent confession by the Prime Minister clearly lines up with the Tribune article of November 28, 2022 which details a draft Cabinet Paper that was prepared for the review of the Prime Minister regarding the BPL hedge. We contend that this is certainly the same draft paper that Minister Alfred Sears spoke about in the House of Assembly in November 2022 when he was busy deflecting blame from himself and throwing the Prime Minister under the bus. As the Prime Minister finally admitted yesterday, he had knowledge of the matter and he (or as he said “we”) made the decision.

Credibility in the words of a Prime Minister is paramount. Prime Minister Davis has now clearly copped to lying to Parliament and to the Bahamian people on a material matter.

The Prime Minister also lied about the FNM administration’s refusal to execute a fuel hedge in June 2021. No Minister in the former Cabinet recalls such a request coming from BPL. No former senior official at BPL that we consulted who were in office at the time could recall such a request being made to the then government. We demand that the Prime Minister substantiate this claim or retract it.

Finally, the Prime Minister mentioned that the $150 million in contingent liability that the government took on from BPL was related to bills this administration inherited from the former administration. The FNM contends that this statement is wholly inaccurate and this administration’s own previous statements contradict this characterization.

The Prime Minister clearly has forgotten his Tweet of 25th August, 2022 when speaking about his administration. He said: “We’re spending millions each month to make sure higher electricity costs are not passed on to the consumer.”

He has clearly forgotten the Nassau Guardian report of 5th October , 2022 where the Financial Secretary indicated that the government’s choice not to increase the fuel surcharge meant that the government became responsible for absorbing “tens of millions of dollars” in fuel costs related to BPL.

He has forgotten that on 5th October, 2022, Minister Sears indicated that the government entered into an arrangement to pay $90 million in fuel arrears over nine months that was attributed at least substantially to the government’s decision not to increase the fuel surcharge earlier.

The Prime Minister has provided no documentation and no evidence to support his contention that this $150 million in contingent liability was the fault of the former administration in part or in whole. The FNM contends that consistent with the Davis Administration and other public officials have said, the lion’s share of this $150 million is related to fuel payment arrears and has come about due to the conscious decisions of the Prime Minister and his team. We demand that they lay all the related documentation on the table of the House of Assembly to substantiate his allegation – but more importantly to demonstrate that he is prepared to live up to his commitment to accountable and transparent governance.

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