Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Embattled Toby Smith Gives Withering Review of Government’s Favoritism for Foreign Investors

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An embattled Bahamian entrepreneur Toby Smith condemned the government, irked that Prime Minister Philip Davis and his government favor foreign investors over Bahamian investors.

“Foreign all the way. When last did you announce support for any Bahamian-owned stores, wholesalers, retailers, bonefish camps, lodges, boutiques, [and] Bahamian-owned resorts? In fact, anything Bahamian owned?” a furious Smith asked in a social media post. He referred to the government’s signing of a $550 million Heads of Agreement with foreign developers on Monday for a new luxury resort in Faith Cave Cay, Exuma, which comes after a recent signing of other Heads of Agreement for $25 million for a boutique in the island chain. The signings come on the heel of the government’s decision to grant Crown Land to Royal Caribbean International (RCI) for its $100 million beach club project, which Smith says he has a lease. Smith has been in a long battle with the government for the property located on the western end of Paradise Island for the development of his Paradise Island Light and Beach Club. But Chief Justice Ian Winder recently ruled that he does not have claim to the land because it was never executed.

Davis supported Smith while in opposition but has since changed his view after winning the seat of government, now granting RCI approval to develop the land.

One of Davis’ cabinet ministers, Glenys Hanna-Martin said she still opposes the RCI project and has come out in support of Smith as developers prepare to break ground, “almost immediately.” She stands by her statement when she accused the Minnis administration in 2021 of “kicking a Bahamian developer to the curb” in favor of the cruise line.

Smith said he was proud of Hanna-Martin’s support for his project, “and not being a hypocrite but staying true to her word.”

Hanna-Martin’s opinion goes against cabinet procedures and Opposition Leader Michael Pintard has called for her resignation since cabinet ministers are expected to present a unified front based on the West Minister’s principle of collective responsibility. But Davis hit back expressing “full confidence” in Hanna-Martin, adding that she did not violate the ministerial code.

Smith then lashed out at Davis in another social media post, “On the defensive! Lay with dogs, pick up fleas.”

Davis requested that Smith resubmit an application for his project.

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