Friday, April 29, 2011

Branville McCartney has reportedly turned down offers to join other political parties... instead opting to form his own – the Democratic National Alliance (DNA)

PLP Stalled For McCartney


The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was so determined to get Bamboo Town MP Branville McCartney to join its ranks that it held off on appointing a candidate to run in the constituency against him, according to party leader Perry Christie.

When Mr. McCartney resigned as state minister for immigration last year Mr. Christie immediately sprung into action to let him know that the party was interested in having him come on board.

A year later when he resigned from the Free National Movement (FNM) Mr. Christie again let Mr. McCartney know that the party was a "big tent" always in search of new talent.

But, in both instances Mr. McCartney declined the offers.

So, Mr. Christie moved on.

Now, the PLP leader said to date four people have applied to the PLP to run in the constituency.

"Quite frankly the delay in appointing a candidate to Bamboo Town was because we wanted to give certain political personalities an opportunity to determine whether they would wish to become a PLP," Mr. Christie said.

"So, we have finished that course now and are moving on to name a candidate for those seats that are remaining. I expect in a short period of time moving forward that we would have a candidate named, but the delay was occasioned by my wanting to give some people whose names I will not now call an opportunity to determine whether they wanted to be a PLP or something else."

Mr. McCartney has reportedly turned down offers to join other third parties, instead opting to form his own – the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), which is set to launch next Monday.

"I support the right of Branville McCartney and others to form themselves into political organisations," Mr. Christie said.

"Branville McCartney’s difficulty is that (attorney) Paul Moss just announced a new political party and said that he has 23 candidates already, so clearly the scramble is on."

Mr. Christie said he believes most people will have to make a decision on which of the parties can realistically form a government.

As far as he is concerned, that choice will come down to two parties – the FNM and the PLP.

"I believe people would say that they want to give the PLP an opportunity because I believe they’re going to buy into and [realise] that Bahamians have to be meaningfully involved in the economy," he said.

FNM Leader Hubert Ingraham has, too, predicted that his party would once again represent Bamboo Town.

He recently went into the constituency to apologise to constituents for Mr. McCartney "abandoning" them.

April 28th, 2011


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Should the government borrow money to pay public servants more or should it tax the rest of the country to pay this particular group?

Govt should say no to public servants

thenassauguardian editorial

How much of the public purse should public servants be entitled to? Compensation to these workers is already around 55 to 60 percent of the national budget. Now the president of the Bahamas Public Services Union John Pinder wants the government to lift the freeze it placed on public service promotions and increments, arguing that inflation is overwhelming the resources of public servants.

This comes nearly a year after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced the freeze in the 2010/2011 budget in May 2010.

Ingraham said public service promotions would be frozen, except in special cases, and that public service employment would also be frozen except in extenuating circumstances. At the time Ingraham said the government was making these adjustments to avoid job losses in the public service.

Pinder is right that inflation is a growing problem. The price of oil per barrel topped $113 yesterday. The entire country is bearing the burden of the increased cost of goods and services.

The solution to the problem, however, faced by public servants can’t simply be for the government to give them more compensation. Where would this money come from?

As we mentioned yesterday regarding the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on infrastructure work by the government, this money is borrowed. And it is borrowed at a time when the country’s debt to GDP ratio is rising. According to figures in the 2010/2011 mid-year budget document, that ratio has risen from 41 percent in 2006 to 56 percent in 2010.

Should the government borrow money to pay public servants more or should it tax the rest of the country to pay this particular group? The first move would be silly and the second unfair.

In the short term, Bahamians will have to conserve during this period of higher prices. In the long term, a policy is needed to introduce alternative energy sources that provide energy to the country at a lower cost than via the burning of fossil fuels.

It is wiser for Bahamians to save and spend wisely as opposed to the government borrowing money to pacify its employees.

The unions know that this is election time and at election time governments borrow and spend generously, seeking to gain votes. Therefore, the unions have started making demands on the treasury.

The cost of satisfying everyone in the short term will be risking the financial well being of the country in the long term.


thenassauguardian editorial

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Renward Wells - National Development Party (NDP) leader says that his party is still in the "valley of decisions" as it pertains to joining Branville McCartney's Democratic National Alliance (DNA)

NDP considers joining DNA party


AN ANNOUNCEMENT is expected by the end of the week as to whether or not the National Development Party (NDP) will join with the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) or remain as a third party force going into the next general election.

According to NDP leader Renward Wells, his party is still in the "valley of decisions" as it pertains to the DNA, which was formed recently by former FNM Minister and now Independent MP Branville McCartney.

However, as it stands, Mr Wells said his party will not be making any comments as there are still a few "things to be worked out in the next couple of days." In the meantime, he said he would rather leave whatever "big announcement" will inevitably come to its "predetermined time."

Rumours have been circulating for weeks that the NDP had already dissolved itself and joined with Mr McCartney's DNA party, with Mr Wells and a few other prominent members of the NDP taking up key leadership roles.

Among the positions being reported, it is rumoured that Mr Wells had been promised the position of chairman, with his deputy leader, Lynden Nairn, becoming the deputy leader of the DNA. La'Tore Mackey, it is reported, would be promoted to the position of secretary general, while Mr McCartney remains as leader of the party.

Last week, Mr Wells indicated that his party would make a decision during that week as to its political future. This decision reportedly came days after activist and businessman Ethric Bowe resigned from the NDP after he was out-voted 18 to two over the group's plans to continue talks with outside political organisations.

On his Facebook page, Mr Bowe claimed a tyre on his car was slashed after the "contentious" meeting.

Mr Bowe left the party because he thought the NDP was "betraying" its core principles, explained Mr Wells, who added that the former's claims of a slashed tyre are unfounded.

However, all of the third party's attempts to amalgamate may be in vain as Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has dismissed their importance in the upcoming general election.

During a recent business opening, Mr Ingraham foreshadowed that the election will strictly be between the PLP and the FNM.

"Period, full stop ... that's who people are going to decide (from in) the next election of the Bahamas," Mr Ingraham said.

Attempts to reach Mr McCartney for comment were unsuccessful.

April 27, 2011


Mark Holowesko says that he played no role in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) / Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) deal and is in no way connected to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC)

FNM calls PLP’s claims against Holowesko ‘bogus’

Guardian News Editor

The Free National Movement (FNM) yesterday branded as ‘bogus’ the claims made by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) that professional money manager Mark Holowesko is involved in a conflict of interest as a member of the new Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) board.

Holowesko is a government representative on the board of BTC, which was recently privatized. The government sold 51 percent of the shares to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC).

Franklin Templeton Investment Funds lists Holowesko as a member of its board of directors.

Franklin Templeton holds shares in Cable and Wireless.

The PLP suggested that Holowesko is in a conflict of interest and questioned whose interests he will serve as a board member.

But the FNM said yesterday, “The opposition’s erroneous claim that Mr. Holowesko’s appointment involved a conflict of interest has been refuted in detail by the internationally well-regarded investment manager who noted that none of the funds he manages has shares in Cable and Wireless.

“With its typical lack of due diligence and sloppiness, the opposition even got wrong the actual investment fund on which Mr. Holowesko serves as a director.

“The FNM notes with great curiosity that these bogus claims of a conflict of interest were made by none other than PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts. The Bahamian people will appreciate this irony.”

Holowesko, who also strongly denied any conflict when he spoke to The Nassau Guardian recently, reiterated in a statement yesterday that he does not receive compensation from the Franklin Templeton group for his service as a board member for its European funds.

He explained: “The Franklin Templeton (FT) Investment Funds are Luxembourg based funds that operate under the SICAV (Societe d’ investissement a capital variable) umbrella. There are over 30 of these FT funds under this SICAV umbrella.

“The funds are separate legal entities that employ investment managers to manage the investment activities of each fund. I am a director of these funds, but I am not an employee or a director of any of these management companies.

“The investment managers hired for these funds are a variety of FT companies within the FT group of companies (again, none of which I am employed by, sit on the board, nor do I have any involvement or day-to-day investment activity).

“Some of the managers of these funds are investment companies in the US, some in Europe and some in Asia. Each of these funds holds dozens of securities, selected by the manager without prior knowledge or consultation with the directors.

“At any point in time it is not possible for me to know what investments are held in the various funds, nor is it my role to do so.

“With over 30 funds, and anywhere from 50 to 150 investments each, there are several thousand positions under the umbrella.

“At the end of December (last reporting period), the FT legal department has confirmed that some of these funds (four) held shares in Cable and Wireless. The decision to buy or sell these shares is not under my direction or control, and I do not participate at all with the investment manager in the evaluation of any of the shares.”

Holowesko stressed again that he played no role in the BTC/CWC deal and is in no way connected to CWC.



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The People's Deliverance Party (PDP) has elected PLP leadership hopeful Paul Moss as its leader

New political party elects Paul Moss as leader

Business Reporter

THE newly-formed People's Deliverance Party (PDP) has elected PLP leadership hopeful Paul Moss as its leader and intends to run a full slate of candidates in the next general election, according to sources within the grouping.

The PDP "already has 23 candidates" lined up to run in constituencies throughout New Providence and the Family Islands and will have a markedly "pro-Bahamian" platform.

"They intend to launch on May 24," said a source close to the party yesterday. In addition to attorney, Mr Moss, Grand Bahamians Troy Garvey, a former NDP member, and Glen Rolle, are said to both have taken executive positions in the PDP.

The PDP will join the Democratic National Alliance, headed by former FNM MP, Branville McCartney and the National Development Party, as yet another outside political force that will vie for political power in the general election, against the mainstream parties, the PLP and the FNM. Outside political party, the Bahamas Democratic Movement, headed by Cassius Stuart, was earlier this month absorbed into the governing FNM party.

"We believe the Bahamian people are ready for it. Everywhere we go people are saying that they need change and want an alternative and we think that will bode well for us. We basically see this as the best time where we have the opportunity to come out and have an affect on the Bahamian people in a real way and we're excited about their chances," said a source within the PDP.

Speaking about the PDP's philosophy, the source said: "We believe we will run The Bahamas for Bahamians. We're not really moved by what we see in terms of these international companies and persons who may dictate to our government. Our party frowns on the decision of the Prime Minister to relax restraints on foreign ownership in restaurants and entertainment. We believe this is how you swallow up a culture.

"This movement is really about getting the Bahamas back on track. We went off track several decades ago, that is to say there was not a deliberate approach to assisting the Bahamas. The approach of this party will be very deliberate. That is what sets us apart."

As for how the party intends to finance its campaign, the source said the PDP has "no doubt" that it can do so. However, they added that they hope their ambitions for public office can also be facilitated by what they perceive to be a desire for change amongst Bahamians akin to that which brought the PLP to power for the first time.

"If one goes back to mid 60s where the PLP was vying to become the government they did not have all the resources either but there was a moment in that period when Bahamians said 'We are not going to be put on or turned on by money, we are going to do right by our children' and we believe this is that moment again.

"The money is fleeting but if you do what is right you will see the benefits for your children. We have sufficient funds but we know the moment is also right for a 1960s-type movement," said the source.

April 26, 2011


What role is Mark Holowesko playing in the BTC - Cable and Wireless marriage?

Holowesko denies conflict claim...

Responds to PLP’s claims about BTC board appointment

Professional money manager Mark Holowesko has strongly denied claims made by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) that his recent appointment to the board of the newly-privatized Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) represents a conflict.

At the close of the deal with Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) early this month, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced that Holowesko, a principal of Holowesko Capital Partners, is one of the three members who will represent the government on the board.

In a recent press statement, the PLP attached general information from Franklin Templeton Investment Funds that lists Holowesko as a member of the board of directors.

Franklin Templeton Investments Portfolio Holdings — also included as part of the press release — shows that Franklin Templeton holds shares in Cable and Wireless Communications.

But Holowesko dismissed claims that he has been appointed to the BTC board to serve interests other than the government and the people of The Bahamas.

“I am not intimately involved in Cable and Wireless,” Holowesko told The Nassau Guardian.

“I own no shares in Cable and Wireless personally and I don’t know that I’ve ever bought any shares in Cable and Wireless for myself or the funds that I’m directly responsible for.”

But the PLP highlighted what it called an apparent conflict.

“At the time of the announcement of Mr. Holowesko to the board of BTC, no disclosure was made by the prime minister or Cable and Wireless of the apparent divided loyalty of Mr. Holowesko,” the PLP said.

“Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition demands to know in whose interest is Mr. Holowesko serving.

“Is Mr. Holowesko representing the interest of the Bahamian people as a government appointee to the board, or is he there as a representative of the company for which he is employed, or is it both?”

But Holowesko said there are several erroneous statements in the PLP’s release.

One of them, he said, is the suggestion that he is paid by Franklin Templeton Investments.

And he said none of the funds he manages holds shares in Cable and Wireless.

Holowesko said he was inquiring with the Franklin Templeton office in the United States about whether any of the funds on whose board he sits holds shares in Cable and Wireless.

“I am a director for a group of funds over in Europe for the Templeton SICAV funds,” he explained.

“Franklin Templeton Investments isn’t the correct legal name for it. Franklin Templeton is a company incorporated in America, which is an investment management company and they have mutual funds in Europe under a Luxembourg umbrella fund called SICAV fund and I am a board member of those funds.

“I’m not a director of Franklin Templeton, the investment management company. I’m a director of some of the funds that they run over in Europe. That’s an important distinction.

“Franklin Templeton funds may or may not own Cable and Wireless shares.”

Further explaining his role with the investment group, Holowesko said, “Franklin Templeton is a company that runs funds all over the world and the funds that I’m a director on, I’m making an educated guess, are about 20 or 30 percent of the mutual funds that they manage, so they’re not the US funds or the Canadian funds. They’re the European funds. Those funds may or may not own Cable and Wireless shares.”

Holowesko explained that as a director on the board of certain funds, he would have no specific knowledge of the day-to-day activities of them.

“I’m not involved in the day-to-day management of those funds. As a director we meet twice a year in London to basically review the operational activities of those funds,” he said.

“The day-to-day investment management of those funds is not under us as directors and I’m not an insider in terms of knowing what they buy and sell and when they buy and sell.

“I do get reports as a director at certain periods in terms of what the funds hold at that point in time, and whether or not those funds own shares in Cable and Wireless today I don’t know and I’ve asked the legal department of Franklin Templeton to let me know and I’ll have that response.”

Holowesko was contacted by The Nassau Guardian to respond to the PLP statement.

The opposition party said, “The nagging questions persist as to what role Holowesko is playing in this BTC, Cable and Wireless marriage.”

“Was Mr. Mark Holowesko involved in the sale of BTC to Cable and Wireless, a company he is intimately involved in as an investor, from the beginning?

“If so, in what capacity? Who was he serving then and who is he serving now?”

But Holowesko said he played no role in bringing Cable and Wireless to the table for the BTC deal. In fact, he said he knows very little about the transaction.

“I have very little knowledge and I have had absolutely zero activity in the sale to Cable and Wireless,” he said.

“As a matter of fact when the prime minister asked me to go on the board, I said ‘one of my main concerns is I don’t know enough about this transaction. If you want me to go on the board you need to have somebody fill me in on this transaction.

“So it is completely and totally erroneous that I have any knowledge or any kind of involvement in this transaction. I have zero involvement in this transaction and I know very little about it.”

Holowesko said he has a meeting with government representatives on Thursday so he can learn more about the specifics of the CWC/BTC transaction and what will be expected of him as a board member.

Holowesko was also asked whether Franklin Templeton Investments is benefiting in any way from the BTC sale.

“I have no idea,” he said.

In its statement, the PLP also said it had been informed that the parent company of Cable and Wireless Communications, Temasek Holdings, is the majority shareholder of Singapore Telecommunications Limited.

“A major shareholder of SingTel is Templeton Global Advisors Limited which falls under the umbrella of Franklin Templeton Investments,” the PLP said.

“Temasek Holdings Limited’s 54 percent ownership of SingTel is under the control of the Government of Singapore.”

Holowesko explained: “Temasek is a company in Singapore which is 100 percent owned by the Singaporean government, which the Singaporean government uses as its vehicle for investing on behalf of the Singaporean people, and nobody owns shares in that company other than the government of Singapore. I have no interaction with that company.

“And how that company is somehow involved in Cable and Wireless I wouldn’t know, and to somehow imply that we have some sort of interest or I have some sort of interest in that company is like saying the average American has some sort of interest in the US Treasury. It’s silly.

“That’s just loony. Total fabrication.”

Company documents with information on Franklin Templeton Investment Funds’ board of directors has a brief reference to “Temasek”, but not the company.

The company address of one of the Franklin Templeton directors — Dr. J. B. Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton’s Emerging Markets Group — is listed as “7 Temasek Boulevard” in Singapore.

Asked how he felt about the claims being made by the PLP, Holowesko, who is the son of Senate President Lyn Holowesko, said, “I’m not a politician. I’m a businessman and a family man. I’ve had family members in politics. I don’t like politics. I abhor politics.

“I find most of it to be a waste of time for these particular reasons that I’m involved in right now. This is time wasting. As far as I’m concerned it’s non-productive and I guess politicians like to do these sorts of things for a variety of reasons. And whatever reasons they have I guess it’s up to them.”

Holowesko said he was asked by the prime minister to be a member of the BTC board and he hopes to make a positive contribution on behalf of the government and the Bahamian people.

“From an investment perspective, I’ve been in the investment business since 1985. So I have a lot of investment experience,” he said.

“…From what I understand — and I’ll get more information [this] week — there’s some very specific things that Cable and Wireless is supposed to do as part of this purchase for The Bahamas and my role on that board is to ensure that they do those things first and foremost.”

The two other government members of the BTC board are Maria Ferere, a partner of FT Consultants Ltd., and Deidre Prescott, who works for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation and previously served as a director on the BTC board.

Four employees of LIME (CWC’s Caribbean arm) are also members of the new board, including LIME CEO David Shaw.



Saturday, April 23, 2011

It would be most appreciated if Honourable Members of the House of Assembly and the public become familiar with the terms of the Investment Policy of The Bahamas

Communication by
Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham
On National Investment Policy and
Investment Promotional Materials

Mr. Speaker,

I am pleased to table for the information of Honourable Members a copy of the new Bahamas Promotional Brochure “The Bahamas: A Paradise for Many Reasons” together with sector information flyers on the tourism and hotel sector, international financial services and Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Members will recall that the brochure was released to the Bahamian media immediately prior to my recent attendance at the IDB Annual Meetings in Calgary, Canada and my subsequent participation in a Bahamas trade and investment mission in Calgary and Toronto.

I advise that the sector information flyers have been translated into the Chinese languages of Mandarin and Cantonese, as well as in Spanish. Translation to Portuguese and French are contemplated in the near future.

Mr. Speaker,

This updated version of the brochure, first published by my government in the 1990s, takes into account developments and changes in the investment and business climate of The Bahamas over the last 15 years or so.

In particular, I draw Honourable Members attention to changes to the National Investment Policy which are incorporated in the brochure. Our National Investment Policy, as Honourable Members are aware, is an evolved policy, some aspects of which date back to the 1960s.

It is neither an FNM nor a PLP policy, and is intended to be a national policy to guide policies of Government, which governments can change when they see fit.

The policies were first articulated and published in a formal way in 1993 as my Government sought to bring increased certainty and transparency to our business and investment environment, thereby enhancing the country’s attractiveness to the foreign direct investment required to foster economic growth.

It would be most appreciated if Honourable Members and the public become familiar with the terms of the Investment Policy of The Bahamas. Much misinformation is communicated from time to time about the investment policies of The Bahamas.

The amendments to the National Investment Policy include:

1. The minimum dollar requirement for direct foreign investment in a commercial undertaking has been increased from $250,000 to $500,000.

2. The minimum required value of a residence acquired by an foreign person for the purpose of seeking accelerated consideration of permanent resident status has been increased from $500,000 to $1.5 million. Honourable Members would recall that this figure had previously been increased from $250,000 to $500,000.

This does not mean that someone cannot obtain permanent residency in The Bahamas if they purchase a residence for a value of less than $1.5 million. What it does mean, if you are purchasing one (a residence) for $1.5 million or more, you will get speedy consideration of that application by the Government agency – i.e., you would be pulled out from the pile and processed speedily. In fact, provided you have all of the required documentation, it is expected that you would be able to have a response of a “yay” or “nay” within 21 days of the completed application being in the hands of the Department of Immigration. We seek to encourage persons who are purchasing or expending that sort of money plus, for a residence in The Bahamas.

There is no requirement in terms of our policy for persons coming to The Bahamas to attend a Directors Meeting of a company incorporated in The Bahamas to obtain a work permit. We want to encourage and facilitate such persons in entry into The Bahamas; we want to facilitate them and accommodate them. And we want to get out of the business of nickel-and-diming them.

While we have a homeowner’s card which permits someone with a residence in The Bahamas to enter as often as they like during the course of the 12 month period in respect of which the card is valid, you need not have a homeowner’s card to be facilitated in coming to The Bahamas.

Canadians and Americans as examples are able to come to The Bahamas if they have a residence in The Bahamas and stay for up to eight months. And so Immigration Officers in places such as Eleuthera, Exuma and Long Island who have been giving such people 30 days instead of the length of time they are required to be in The Bahamas, ought to discontinue doing so. It is not the intention of the government of The Bahamas to force a homeowner to obtain a homeowner’s card – it is something they can access if they choose, but they do not have to access it.

We have many residents – Canadians and Americans – who own homes in the Family Islands and elsewhere, who come down for many months out of the year and who spend money in our economy. And I am tired of getting complaints about how they are being hassled at various places in terms of the length of time they can stay in the country.

3. The restriction prohibiting international investments in restaurants and or entertainment facilities (e.g. theme parks) unless a part of a hotel resort, has been eliminated.

As you will know Mr. Speaker, the amendments made to the Hotel Encouragement Act for restaurants and other tourist related businesses in areas frequented by tourists but not within a hotel, have been in effect now for probably two years.

The revised Investment Policy also makes provision that approved investors in major development projects which investment creates employment and business opportunities for Bahamian citizens and who own or acquire a residence in The Bahamas, may be granted Permanent Residency status with the right to work in their own business.

Examples of this abound, Mr. Speaker: Butch Stewart who owns Sandals, John Issa who owns Breezes or the man who owns Robin Hood food store, are permanent residents with the right to work in their own businesses in The Bahamas. And that is an area that we say was reserved for Bahamians - but he has the right to work.

Permanent Residents continue to be required to register all real property acquisitions with the Investments Board. The fact that you are required to register it causes us to be in a position to know what non-Bahamian citizens own in our economy in terms of real estate, and we regard that as critical and vital national data to have.

As regards the Investment Policy concerning the registration of land acquisition by international persons generally, Members would recall that in 2009, the International Persons Landholding Act was amended to provide that all international persons only need register acquisitions of owner-occupied property of two acres and under - reduced from five acres.

You would recall Mr. Speaker, that back in 1993, we passed a law which remained in effect until 2009 that permitted a foreign person to purchase property in The Bahamas for the purpose of constructing a residence/house of five acres or less.

That served us well for 15 years or more. There were concerns expressed by a number of Bahamians and others, and we therefore reduced the acreage to two instead of five. Now such persons are still required to provide us with information about the source of their funding, their character certificates and the like, because notwithstanding that they are required to register it, we do want to know who is in The Bahamas, who owns property in The Bahamas and if the question arises in the future, the Government wants to be in a position to be able to respond to those questions.

And so while some people find getting a police certificate, getting a letter of reference from the bank and other such information offensive and a nuisance, it is not a requirement that we can see our way clear to remove. The Government does not grant permission for you to do so, but it requires this additional information in order for you to register your acquisition in The Bahamas.

If you are acquiring property of more than two acres, then you need a permit from the Government. You have to apply and the Investment Board reserves the right to say yes or no to any such application.

Mr. Speaker:

Every effort has been made to ensure that the Investment Policy is expressed in as apolitical way as possible taking into account the reality that our investment policies generally reflect the time honoured acceptance that the Bahamian economy is primarily driven by the tourism and financial services sectors, areas overwhelmingly involving international participation and investment.

Further, the policy reflects successive government’s dedication to promoting and incentivizing investment and development in light manufacturing and industry primarily in Grand Bahama, also with international participation.

And, finally, the Policy reflects the Government’s interest in promoting investment in the agricultural and marine resources sectors.

I invite Honourable Members to acquaint themselves with the policy, and with the booklet.

Fifteen years ago when we produced this book it was printed outside The Bahamas. This book was now printed by the Government Printing Department.

Finally Mr. Speaker, the policy is not a policy in concrete, it is a policy that continues to evolve, and the extent to which Members on either side have suggestions about amendments to the policy, they are invited to do so.

The next investment promotional trip of The Bahamas will be sometime this summer in Brazil, which I propose to lead.

18th April, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bahamian politics, politicians, pundits, pollsters, strange bedfellows and the next general election in The Bahamas

Politicians, pundits and pollsters

By Philip C. Galanis

With slightly more than one year, at most, before the general election must be called, the political temperature is already rising. In February this year, Dr. Andre Rollins resigned from the NDP, the political party he helped to create, and joined the PLP. He was quickly nominated to be the latter's standard bearer in the Fort Charlotte constituency.

In March, Branville McCartney, the FNM Member of Parliament for Bamboo Town, resigned from the governing Party and announced that his newly formed Democratic National Alliance (DNA) will contest the next elections with a full slate of candidates.

Not to be outdone or upstaged by Christie's PLP or Bran's DNA, last week Prime Minister Ingraham, with great fanfare and flanked by fellow-ministers and followers, welcomed Cassius Stuart, the Leader of the Bahamas Democratic Party, along with virtually his entire disbanded decade-old organization, into the Free National Movement. And let us not forget that one of the dailies predicted the imminent demise of the National Democratic Party, given the dissatisfaction with several of its leaders and disaffection from its ranks.

Meanwhile some Bahamian political spectators are virtually salivating in exuberant excitement and eager expectation to see which other veteran and wannabe politicians will be co-opted and who will defect from their current positions as this political ballet is choreographed and performed on the political stage. Perhaps as never before will the adage that "politics makes strange bedfellows" be corroborated as a truism in Bahamian politics — for the next few months, in any event.

Therefore this week, we would like to Consider This...what are we to make of the recent developments that have evoked such excitement on the domestic political landscape and what part do the pundits and pollsters play in this ever-growing drama we call Bahamian politics?


It has become very clear that some of the recent novices and veterans in the political arena have now realized that they will continue to be marginalized by remaining on the periphery of the real political stage, outside the organizational mainstream of the two behemoths that are the PLP and the FNM. Accordingly, Dr. Andre Rollins and Cassius Stuart — along with almost his entire party — have determined to hitch their political fortunes to the major parties.

A frequently asked question regarding such political vacillations is whether those persons are really interested in improving the things that they have articulated to be wrong with both the country and the major political parties that up to one year ago they vehemently opposed, or are they more interested in their own political elevation and personal aggrandizement? Although Bran McCartney has taken a very different course, some will put the same question to him. Just how true they remain to their principles and fundamental positions will become more apparent in the fullness of time.


The term "pundit" normally refers to one who regards himself as an expert in a particular subject and who offers his opinion or commentary to the public on that subject. Punditry has been applied to political analysis, the social sciences and sports. Traditionally, political pundits would include radio and television talk show hosts and their guests who are generally knowledgeable in such matters. Pundits also include newspaper and magazine columnists, most of whom, with the exception of the Scribe and Front Porch by Simon (both pseudonyms), have the courage of their convictions to identify themselves and stand by their positions, whether the public perceives their positions to be right, wrong or indifferent.

Pundits are often not necessarily scientific in their approach to political analysis, relying more on their intuition, a sixth sense, if you will, a historical frame of reference and even on their personal experience to explain the vicissitude of politics.

In a general sense, however, many Bahamians think of themselves as political pundits and equally possessed of the qualities that characterize those who more traditionally fit the definition. Virtually every Bahamian has a political opinion. Because Bahamians are generally well-informed on partisan and national issues, extremely interested in the body politic and politically astute, they are as eager to express their views as they are prepared to criticize or support government and opposition policies and decisions. And that is very healthy for our polity.


Pollsters on the other hand, as compared to pundits, attempt to provide a degree of scientific sophistry to political developments and issues of the day. An effective pollster will have a good understanding of mathematical and statistical methods to analyze and interpret events and to forecast outcomes. In short, pollsters have mastered the art that many politicians so often fail at. They actually ask people what they think about an issue, a policy or a national decision. Then they summarize the answers to the questions that they ask and present their findings based on what people actually think.

Some people are skeptical of pollsters, often objecting to the validity of the answers garnered from the poll, because the "doubting Thomases" question the veracity of persons whom they poll. It has often been suggested that Bahamians will provide the answers that they think the pollster is seeking rather than the truth of how the person polled actually feels.

However, there are techniques for pollsters to filter answers in order to arrive at a consensus position of persons who are polled. Furthermore, although polling in The Bahamas is a relatively new discipline, the politician who prefers to rely exclusively on his intuition or the “expertise” of the pundits do so at their peril. The fact of the matter is that politics has become more scientific in assessing public opinion and sentiment and polling has proven to be a very useful tool to accomplish that task.

Just this past week, the relatively new Bahamian market research firm, Public Domain, headed by Mwale Rahming, released the results of a poll that his firm conducted between February 16 and March 11, 2011. Public Domain indicated that 402 persons were polled, weighted by region, age and gender, in order to ensure that the population represented a good cross-section of the Bahamian adult population. The poll represented a five percent margin of error which is quite acceptable for such an exercise.

To the question: "If the election was held today, which party would you vote for?" the results were reminiscent of the Elizabeth bye-election. The respondents indicated that 28 percent would vote for the PLP and 25 percent for the FNM. What is even more revealing about that poll is that 21 percent indicated that they would vote for a third, unbranded party and 26 percent were undecided. The conclusion of that poll is that 47 percent, nearly one-half of the respondents, did not have an appetite for either the PLP or the FNM. The conclusion can be drawn from this is that there is a very large percentage of disaffected voters who are not happy with the two major parties. This confirms the perceptions of many political pundits.

Secondly, the respondents were asked "How satisfied are you with the current government led by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham?" The response was that 14 percent were very satisfied, 35 percent were somewhat satisfied for a total of 49 percent who were generally satisfied with the current government. Equally revealing was the conclusion that 21 percent were somewhat dissatisfied and another 25 percent were very dissatisfied for a total dissatisfaction rating of 46 percent. The remaining four percent did not know. This is very interesting when one considers how close today’s figures are to the percentage of voters who actually voted FNM in the last general election, nearly 49.82 percent, as compared to those who didn’t vote FNM but voted PLP, which was 46.98 percent.

Finally, to the question: "If a third political party presented a full slate of andidates with a mix of veteran and new candidates, how likely would you be to vote for this third party?" the responses were astounding. The response was that 32 percent were very likely to do so, 25 percent were somewhat likely to do so, for a total of 57 percent who said that they were likely to vote for a third party. In addition, 11 percent were not very likely to do so, while another 21 percent were not likely at all to vote for a third party, rendering a total of 32 percent who would not likely to vote for a third party. The remaining 11 percent did not know.

These poll results should give both the PLP and the FNM reason to be concerned about voter sentiment at this particular point in time and should also be very encouraging to Branville McCartney who, when this poll was conducted, had not yet announced that he would form a political party and that he would present a full slate of candidates in the upcoming elections.


We have always maintained that the next general election will be a close, fiercely contested and combative conflict. It is clear that politicians must fully understand the political landscape. The pundits will have much to talk and write about as the "silly season" unfolds, sharing their considered opinions and gut feelings with all and sundry. Finally, the pollsters will have an increasingly important role to play as they investigate and measure the actual feelings of voters, unraveling the variables and vicissitudes that will contribute to the success of the victor and failure of the vanquished in the next general election, whenever it is called.

Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to



Thursday, April 21, 2011

We live in one of the most violent countries in the world

‘A phenomenal burden’

Guardian News Editor

A closer look at the impact of crime on PMH

The high level of violent crime is stretching resources all around, and officials at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) know that all too well. “I think that it has been said repeatedly that the impact of violence, crime, accidents on the public health care system has been almost overwhelming,” said Senator Dr. Duane Sands, who is consultant surgeon at PMH.

“The national statistics would seem to suggest that we have a murder count of whatever. In reality that number, the number of absolute deaths from violence belies the real problem.

“And this is not a new phenomenon. This is something that has been going on now for at least a decade.”

But Sands noted that the hospital continues to see more gunshot victims than in the past.

“We see on average in this country, in excess of 400 major stabbing or shooting traumas (every year),” he added.

“What has happened in the last three years is we’ve seen the knife been replaced by the gun. And so what that does to the emergency room, what that does to the operating room, the Intensive Care Unit and the wards is put a phenomenal burden [on them].”

According to information provided by Sands, in 2000, there were 323.6 assaults recorded for every 100,000 inhabitants in the United States.

By extrapolation, The Bahamas might anticipate 900 to 1,000 assaults per year.

Instead, it is recording more than 3,000 at PMH alone.

“We live in one of the most violent countries in the world,” he noted in a recent presentation at the Medical Association of The Bahamas conference.

“Trauma is a major public health problem.”

Sands noted in an interview with National Review that Medical Advisor to the Public Hospitals Authority Dr. Glen Beneby recently released a report that examined occupancy rates in all of the hospitals that fall under the PHA.

He said while there is no question that PMH is challenged on most wards (Pediatrics, Gynecology, Obstetrics etc.), occupancy rates on the surgical wards range from 92 percent to 104 percent.

Hospital officials have created another ward in what used to be the out patient area of PMH.

“If we look at the impact on the operating room, the operating room basically has now been forced to focus on emergencies and trauma,” Sands said.

“If you look at the impact on the Intensive Care Unit, the Blood Bank; if you look at the impact on the pathology lab (it’s great).”

This means that on many occasions, elective surgeries are constantly put off, Sands noted.

“And so if you look at the impact on health care in general from violence, it is a lot more significant than just the numbers we are seeing in the public,” he said.

“Resources are indeed stretched and we take this as a duty. We have to respond. And so the hospital responds however we can.”

What the public sees from this growing problem is increased waiting times, a shortage of blood at the Blood Bank and the postponement of those elective surgeries, as mentioned.

“This is the real impact of the violence and trauma on regular, ordinary people,” Sands added.

“It is a big, big problem.”


“If you look at the impact of all of the violence and trauma, let’s take my house staff in surgery or in the emergency department, they are constantly exposed to the most outrageous forms of violence — seeing people beaten, stabbed, raped, molested etc.,” Sands told National Review.

“It is almost surreal, the impact on these individuals...They see the worst of people every single day. You couple that with a public response, which is not terribly supportive...and while we understand this, bear in mind that those two things put together create a very challenging emotional and psychological environment that we try to provide support for.

“To be very candid with you I don’t think we do as good a job as we should.”

The high stress level for the medical professionals is sometimes worsened when street fights continue into the emergency room.

“Notwithstanding that we have beefed up security significantly, it is not foolproof,” Sands said.

The government spends a significant amount on initiatives to provide a safe environment for staff and patients, noted Coralee Adderley, PMH administrator.

She said there may be a need to improve security even further.

“I would say that 20 years ago as a young administrator the weekend report, when you got [it] on a Monday morning, a stab here or there, a gun shot once a month was a big story,” she said.

“Now it’s almost every day and that’s a huge cause for concern.

“Any particular evening you can find that the emergency room is inundated with shootings, stabbing and so forth.

“That coupled with the fact that a lot of these patients, once they are admitted to hospital are in police custody. So that creates another dynamic for us, not just in the emergency room.”

Dr. Sarah Friday, the physician in charge of A&E, admitted the situation takes a personal emotional and psychological toll.

“I’ve been in emergency medicine for quite some time and after a while the [constant flow of trauma] patients coming in and you’re not getting to see other people with the [other] medical problems as quickly because maybe somebody with a gunshot to the chest or a stab to the arm or something like that would take precedence,” Friday said.

“You have other people with the other medical emergencies but because of the time sensitive nature of a person who is bleeding you find that other persons may have a delay in their care because we have someone who’s bleeding and that of course will take priority.

“If you talk to a lot of the staff it does take a toll on you because you walk out of the trauma room having seen somebody stabbed to the chest and then you turn around and then somebody, a diabetic patient for instance who may have missed his medication, and you’ve just left somebody who may have died.

“And so [when you see] the next patient you’re still carrying that burden of a young 17-year-old just shot to the chest and is now dead and you have to see that next patient.”


With chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCD) already placing a strain on health care services, the rising cases that stem from violence are worsening an already bad situation.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which is the regional arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), predicts a 300 percent increase in deaths from cardiovascular diseases in the region over the next 20 years.

Sands pointed out in his recent presentation at the Medical Association of The Bahamas conference that The Bahamas, like the rest of the Caribbean and America, is experiencing an epidemic of deaths and morbidity from the CNCDs such as obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets.

Sands indicated that violence and trauma divert scarce resources from other medical conditions and have done so for many years.

He also noted that the “culture” of violence creates a hazardous work environment that adds to absenteeism and attrition among medical staff.

Sands also noted that trauma patients not operated on in a timely fashion suffer more infections and thrombotic complications.


“The debate about the way forward with health care is a debate about choices,” Sands said.

“And this government has made it very clear that it is going to adjust the resources upward for the provision of health care and has done a number of things.

“There is no question that we need a new hospital and that is going to create a whole lot of discussion about where those funds are coming from.”

The government had intended to use proceeds from the sale of a majority stake in Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) to build a new hospital.

But with a dramatic downturn in the economy, the government was forced to increase borrowing, which resulted in rising debt levels.

The new plan is to use the proceeds from the sale of BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications to pay down the debt.

The government has instead opted to build a new critical care block on PMH’s compound. It will have an additional six operating rooms.

“But we have other challenges that have to be dealt with and we are preparing various position papers to put forward to the administration and the Ministry (of Health) to consider,” Sands said.

“While we all have a duty to try and intercede [as a result of] this carnage that’s going on in this country, we (PMH) have to stand in the gap.

“So the physicians, the nurses, the ancillary staff, the hospital administrators, we don’t have a choice. This hospital does not close and we have to do what we can with the resources that we have.”

Sands said, “It is a real, real problem and it is the direct impact of everything that’s going on and the choices that Bahamians are making, and fundamentally resolving this is going to require the energy and the effort of every single Bahamian.”

He said the hope is that there is not a further escalation in demands being placed on PMH because the hospital has no other choice but to care for people who come for treatment.

Adderley added, “Despite the sometimes negative comments that we hear in the news from patients and family members, we do have a group of committed individuals here who want to see improvements to this facility, to our health system to provide the best in care.”



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Auditor general’s report: Widespread misuse of government funds in the Local Government offices on various Family Islands

Report: Widespread misuse of public money in local govt

Guardian Staff Reporter

The recently tabled auditor general’s report reveals the widespread misuse of government funds in the Local Government offices on various Family Islands. The report — which covers the period between July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009 — details a lack of accountability or audit trails in the recurrent accounts in many of the local government offices.

According to the report, as it relates to revenue in the Central Andros District, “the practice of omitting the general receipt references for clinic fees, character references and gun licenses from the cashbook did not leave a good audit trail and impeded the process of verifying the actual amounts collected.”

The auditor general also found several inconsistencies as it relates to the recurrent expenditure account. “We noted that payments were made to repair the old school building at Blanket Sound,” said the report, which was tabled in the House of Assembly on Monday. “During our site inspection we could not verify where any work was done to the old building.”

Additionally, the report revealed that payments were made for plumbing, supplies, building materials, painting supplies and sundry items but no justification was given for the items purchased and the related projects were not indicated.

The report also revealed that money was spent out of the local government’s reserve account in that district without any evidence of approval from the minister responsible, as is the requirement.

In the Cat Island District, the report detailed that some payment vouchers were discovered but were not supported with bills or receipts. Similarly in North Eleuthera, the report indicates that the description of works given and supporting documentation was inadequate for payment vouches. “In other cases, the vouchers were not approved by the island administrator; neither was the account numbers to which the transactions were to be charged provided,” the report said.

In Harbour Island, the report noted that unspent budgetary funds were not returned to the Public Treasury at the end of fiscal years as mandated from 2004.

In Spanish Wells, the auditor general report indicated that monthly payments were made for the upkeep of public grounds, roads, harbor and dock, however evidence of competitive bidding was not provided and the agreements setting forth the conditions for works undertaken were not produced for audit review.

The same conclusion was made in Central Eleuthera.

The report states that during a scrutiny of payment vouchers and contract, the scope of work was not included and bids were not attached. In the Exuma District it was noted that adequate information and supporting documents were not attached or indicated on vouchers to justify the charges made against budget items. “We also noted that some checks were written to the administrator rather than suppliers,” the report said. “Some vouchers related to school repairs and to the district superintendent’s office were charged against line items that do not exist.”

A review of the Social Services Department in Mayaguana revealed that some people who were receiving food coupons were gainfully employed as was seen on a monthly National Insurance contribution schedule and monthly upkeep payments.

“In our view, the present system in place for the delivery of food assistance lacked transparency and accountability,” the report said.

“In our opinion, pubic funds were disbursed without regard for economy, efficiency, transparency and accountability. Internal controls need to be strengthened to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of the operation.”

The report calls for an overhaul of many of the practices of the local government offices.

It also seeks clarifications or accounting in cases where money was spent but no evidence of the work was acknowledged.



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The 2012 general election issues are: Jobs, Crime, and Leadership

Leadership will be an issue in 2012 election

tribune242 editorial

IN A crescendo of emotion during the debate last month on the sale of BTC to Cable & Wireless, a member of the Opposition on the floor of the House loudly declared that the 2012 election would be fought on leadership.

Anxious to change the focus, Opposition leader Perry Christie at a PLP rally in Freeport on March 18 was quick to tell his party supporters that the general election will have nothing to do with personalities, but will be fought on issues. He declared that the Ingraham administration had been bad for the country, which had been "on a steep downhill ride for the past four years."

At his own rally in Nassau on the following evening, Prime Minister Ingraham directed the people's attention back to the drawing board. Agreeing that the election would be about jobs and crime, he wanted it to be known that it would also be about leadership.

"Don't forget, Mr Christie," he said, "it will also be about leadership. People of the Bahamas know what they can get when they are tired of what they got."

In the 2002 election, Mr Christie was an untried leader who promised that his was a "new" PLP --not of the Pindling stripe, which Bahamians had soundly rejected in 1992 -- but a new party that would bring them "help and hope." He also promised that, unlike the first PLP, his would be a scandal-free administration.

After five years under an indecisive leader and much scandal within the party, the PLP government failed to deliver on most of its promises. Other than much talk, there was little help and many voters had given up hope. As a result, the 2007 election was won on leadership. Five years of indecision was too much to tolerate. FNM leader Ingraham won the contest. Naturally, leadership is not an issue that Mr Christie would want to face again.

It is good to have all the answers for the country's ills, but if the country's leader is slow in executing them, then solutions are useless.

Mr Christie has claimed that Mr Ingraham is to blame for not quickly completing and executing plans that his government had taken to final signature, but which he had failed to sign. What Mr Christie does not seem to grasp is that if he had executed those agreements on time, many of the projects would have been completed, or nearing completion and Bahamians would have still been employed when the economic crash took the Bahamas and the rest of the world down.

However, it has to be admitted that Mr Christie's indecision has saved the Bahamas much. It gave the Ingraham government an opportunity to revise and renegotiate many of the contracts -- especially the Baha Mar deal, and the rejection of the Bluewater purchase of BTC, which would have been a disaster for this country.

In a radio talk show in February 2007 -- just before the May election -- then Prime Minister Christie admitted that he "could have done more" and was disappointed that he hadn't.

He said he had wanted to have a new straw market two years earlier. However, he only got around to signing the contract for a $22 million structure on February 16, 2007 - three months before the election. The old market had burned down in September 2001. When the FNM came to power in 2007 the overpriced new market was a controversial issue. Eventually the PLP's plans were scrapped, new plans were drawn, and on December 15, 2009 a new contract for its construction was signed. The Bay Street Market is now nearing completion.

Mr Christie said he wanted to have "the Royal Oasis opened a year ago, six months ago, and we're just now moving towards a final resolution of that" -- three months before a general election!

"Things have to take time and sometimes in the lives of politicians, the time is judged by five years," he told his radio audience. That is why a strong, decisive leader with vision is so important. The electorate has to understand that five years cannot accommodate an indecisive leader with an indifferent work ethic.

"I'm disappointed," Mr Christie had told his radio audience, three months before the Bahamian people voted him from office, "in the slowness of the realisation of the PLP's vision for the country. The major disappointment I have is that I could have done more."

It was an amazing admission of defeat - but with an excuse.

Mr Christie has presented the best argument of why Bahamians should not consider handing the government to him and his party in 2012. A rejection of the PLP at the polls in 2012 will spare both Mr Christie and the Bahamian people another five years of disappointment.

Even in defeat at the polls in 2007, indecision caused another 24 hours of confusion before the PLP could accept that they had in fact lost the government. According to his own testimony, Mr Christie had failed to grasp that a decisive, hard working leader was needed at the helm if much was to be accomplished in five years.

April 18, 2011

tribune242 editorial

Cassius Stuart’s decision to join the governing Free National Movement (FNM) party demonstrates that he has the sense to know when a lost cause should be abandoned

Is Cassius Stuart still credible?

thenassauguardian editorial

Cassius Stuart spent much of the last decade raging against the political order as the leader of the Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM). The BDM argued that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) were not good enough for The Bahamas.

Stuart and the BDM — a fringe party — were never successful building up the clout necessary to challenge for a seat in the House of Assembly.

So after a decade trying, Stuart and the BDM have gone to the FNM.

Can you blame them? At the February 2010 Elizabeth by-election, Stuart, a ‘party’ leader, was not even able to secure enough votes to get back his election deposit. That was clearly a sign that the BDM had gone nowhere.

We think third parties should dedicate the time necessary to build the brand. Stuart and the BDM did this and, over time, there was no meaningful connection between the organization and the people.

It is expected that at least Stuart — out of the BDM executives who joined the FNM — will be named an FNM candidate at the next general election.

His decision, and that of the other BDM members, was pragmatic. It merely demonstrates what all should know: Politics is not about ideals, but about power. To achieve the goal of being able to exercise power, the BDM realized that it needed to join one of the mainstream parties.

The BDM members should not be criticized for losing the childlike idealism they had. In fact, they should be commended for offering themselves as candidates over the years rather than merely complaining about the state of the country from the sidelines.

Stuart’s decision demonstrates that he has the sense to know when a lost cause should be abandoned.

“Today, the same message that guided us in the wilderness over this past decade is the message that has been embraced by the Free National Movement — a message we believe will touch the lives of every man, woman and child in our archipelago,” said Stuart last week when he was welcomed to the party at FNM headquarters.

Dr. Andre Rollins did the same thing. He abandoned the fledgling National Development Party (NDP) and is now a candidate for the PLP in a winnable seat (Ft. Charlotte).

What young politicians must learn is that they should not let youthful zeal lead them to make statements in the public sphere they will later regret when powerful political leaders offer them ‘things’ and they then abandoned all they once claimed to believe and support.

Stuart and Dr. Rollins are now in the mainstream. They both will now likely have good chances at winning a seat at the election. The things they said about the FNM and PLP in the past were merely words aimed at a goal. They now have what they wanted. The words and deeds worked.


thenassauguardian editorial

Monday, April 18, 2011

It appears that there will be political bloodletting in Bamboo Town where the governing Free National Movement (FNM) and Official Opposition - Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) plot to ambush Branville McCartney at the polls

Branville McCartney and the 2012 election


IN THE next general election, it appears that newly independent MP Branville McCartney and his purported new party are hoping that Bahamians are tired of playing musical chairs between the two major parties--FNM and PLP--and are more inclined to vote for, and even elect, a third party force. Frankly, our politically expedient culture, coupled with our more traditional Westminster system--where third parties are speedily dispatched to the political gallows and certain political death--dreams of a third party capturing the imagination of the masses are futile this electoral cycle, regardless of the false promises of support made by many fair-weather bandwagon riders in the months before the official campaigns/rallies kickoff.

Without a doubt, Mr McCartney is a self-styled populist whose recent resignation from the FNM--whilst expressing opposition to the BTC deal with Cable and Wireless Communications--has sent shock waves throughout the political sphere and wider Bahamian society. Indeed, whilst there are some who see McCartney's move as standing up for his beliefs and being demonstrative of him showing that he has heart and isn't merely a bootlicker, others see it as a display that is nothing short of full-blown, megalomaniacal grandstanding.

Contrary to the speculation regarding the BTC sale--where a widespread mutiny was rumoured to be in the works within the ranks of the FNM's Parliamentary caucus and was supposedly inclusive of Mr McCartney and three other FNM MPs--no such incident occurred. Whether the alleged MPs chickened out or not remains a mystery, however, there was no crescendo of voices--within the FNM, among the masses and, I'm told, not even among scores of the employees at BTC--absolutely rebuking the sale of the telecoms company.

Quite honestly, it appears that there will be a political bloodletting in Bamboo Town, with both the FNM and the PLP running candidates and plotting an ambush of Mr McCartney at the polls. With lots of finger-jabbing and verbal bricks being thrown, the contest for the Bamboo Town seat has quickly become a highly contentious matter, seemingly leaving McCartney at a political crossroads and facing a stormy, most combative political season that will see the electoral machinery of both major parties descend upon Bamboo Town.

According to some accounts, Mr McCartney's purported new entity--if it comes to fruition--could feature one or two political rejects who were cast off by the major parties due to character flaws and questionable dealings. Mr McCartney must be careful not to surround himself with shifty characters and sycophants and must, if he leads a new party, seek to establish a renewed sense of purpose and a coherent political philosophy that appeals to the national consciousness. So, is Bran McCartney close-up-ready? What are his views on the Bahamas' future?

It remains to be seen whether Bran McCartney's apparent out-performance of many of his former Cabinet colleagues was merely artificial hype and a fluke because he headed a highly emotive ministry--Immigration--or because he genuinely possessed ideas and leadership acumen. That said, in this upcoming election cycle, it appears the third party votes will merely tip the scale in favour of one of the major parties as opposed to the other, and not the third parties themselves. I'm doubtful that any of the current or yet-to-be-announced third parties in a general election have reached the stage where they would've encroached upon the percentage of any given party (FNM/PLP) to make people think that a third party is a force to be reckoned with.

Can Mr McCartney woo independent, non-ideological voters particularly in this age of identity politics? Will Mr McCartney's resignation and the impending showdown in Bamboo Town, coupled with the formation of a new party, expose him as having stepped into a pair of oversized shoes?

As good an MP as he appears to have been, will Mr McCartney find himself hopelessly in the political wilderness after the next election?

And, why didn't Mr McCartney own his political moment and vote no to the BTC sale whilst sitting as an FNM and then allow the FNM to expel him from the party? Why did he resign and walk out of Parliament instead of facing the music-- wouldn't that have had greater historical effect? No doubt, he would have gone down in history and become an even bigger political rock star.

Why didn't McCartney bring some of his Bamboo Town constituents with him to Parliament as a show of support for his vote on the BTC sale and his resignation from the FNM?

Indeed, it is true that some within the FNM are whooping and hollering now that Mr McCartney has divorced the party, particularly as he was a strong threat to their chances of ascending to the FNM leadership in the post-Ingraham era (likely 2017).

Has McCartney's political stock depreciated from self-inflicted wounds or is it just burgeoning?

Did McCartney buy into his own public relations?

Is the FNM's ongoing and much publicized response to Mr McCartney's resignation an indication of a seismic crack in their electoral machinery? Now that McCartney has abandoned the FNM, will he ever be catapulted into a much higher political stratosphere--that is, that of Prime Minister? Will Mr McCartney do a "Bernard Nottage" and abandon the proposed political entity and one day return to the FNM, this time to assume the party's leadership? Is McCartney's rumoured formation of a new party merely a vehicle to demonstrate his leadership abilities in hopes of impressing the internal machinery of the FNM and being invited back as their political saviour in 2017?

As I said in an earlier column, now that Bran McCartney has taken his fate into his own hands, if he remains an independent--a true independent--he's likely to still attract many marginal, non-ideological and independent-minded voters--a class of voters that's rapidly expanding with today's younger, more educated electorate.

Indeed, there remains a jingoistic adoration of the Bamboo Town MP. Moreover, Mr McCartney--regardless of the chair throwing and stirring dramatics at the FNM's recent town hall meeting in the constituency--has a sizeable FNM following and FNMs have, in the past, shown themselves willing to vote independent if they feel that the party didn't do the right thing. In this case, McCartney may not find that support as many FNMs feel like he walked out on them.

Frankly, Mr McCartney would likely suffer a political death if he joins another party--or perhaps forms his own--and thereby returns to the electorate after one term with another "label" attached.

Quite honestly, McCartney should postpone any plans for a third party and instead focus on winning his own seat!

Moreover, this political season Mr McCartney must avoid appearing like a disgruntled FNM and engaging in petty bickering, instead promulgating ideas and promoting national initiatives.

In Bamboo Town, he has demonstrated an ideal work ethic and has a body of work--within the constituency--to bolster his campaign. McCartney, among his constituents, is heralded as a hard worker, a young man who understands the true purpose of Parliamentary representation of his constituents.

Reliable sources have informed me that there are plans afoot to outfox Mr McCartney at the polls, writing him off as a showman, whose "groundless" braggadocio, will douse his electoral prospects and place him on a treadmill to oblivion whilst also serving as a teachable moment to a cadre of political newcomers. One FNM insider advised me to watch the "shifting landscape."

Bran McCartney must now wade through a political minefield and, as one who was once considered the future face of the FNM, his resignation has led to a man--who potentially could've risen to the leadership of the FNM--ushering himself out of the throne room.

Frankly, if Mr McCartney is relegated to the political dustbin following the next general election, he would be another politician crushed by the machinery of the major parties. However, if he wins, he's likely to be a force to be reckoned with, particularly if he articulates ideas and is not blinded by ego.

That said, if the Bahamas continues to be a red (FNM) and gold (PLP) state, young persons promoting change and aspiring for leadership may have to fight from within the internal structure of the major parties, seeking to convince council and executive members of the value of their candidacy and the importance of new ideas in advancing the country--unless, of course, there is a political revolution!

April 09, 2011


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who is this man Fred Mitchell?

Would the real Fred Mitchell please stand up?

tribune242 edtorial

AS SOON as he arrived at the office yesterday morning a Tribune staff member went to this newspaper's "morgue" in search of a certain file. The night before he had heard a comment over channel 14 by Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell that -- in view of Mr Mitchell's political past-- startled him. He wondered if his memory were playing tricks with him. The files, he was certain, would set him straight.

He said he did not listen to the full show, but just heard a comment by Mr Mitchell on the defection of BDM Cassius Stuart to the FNM.

This week after 13 years of trying to break through on the political scene, the Bahamas Democratic Movement was officially dissolved by its leader Cassius Stuart and merged with the FNM. Under Mr Stuart's leadership, the BDM was a harsh critic of both Prime Minister Ingraham and Opposition Leader Christie.

"It is safe to conclude," Mr Stuart had once said, "that both the PLP and the FNM are major failures." He listed those failures to include education, crime, defence, immigration and the environment. In fact, in his opinion, they had failed at everything.

Over the years Mr Stuart and his party did everything possible to drive a wedge between the two major parties to attract public attention to his third party. Mr Stuart and a colleague went so far as to barge into the House of Assembly while in session and handcuff themselves to the Speaker's mace to protest the "unfair gerrymandering of the constituency boundaries by the FNM administration." The House was suspended. Mr Stuart and his colleague were jailed for two days, then released without being charged.

This week Mr Stuart and six of his members, threw in the towel and joined the FNM, convinced that a third party in the context of Bahamian politics was not viable. He, and his followers, had finally decided to make their public contribution through the ranks of the governing party.

Commenting on their decision, Mr Mitchell had said that as a result of Mr Stuart joining the FNM, he would have a lot of explaining to do with the public, because of his severe criticism over the years of the FNM. All of a sudden, he then ups and joins the FNM. Mr Mitchell wondered why?

In Thursday's edition of The Tribune Mr Mitchell reiterated that Mr Stuart had much explaining to do because only a few weeks ago he was "bashing the government over BIC." The whole affair seemed odd to Mr Mitchell.

We would now like the real Fred Mitchell -- one time PLP member, PDF founder and leader, Senator occupying an FNM seat, PLP Minister, later PLP in opposition -- to please stand up. Are we dealing with the pre-1992 Mitchell, who by then had worn many faces, or the Fred Mitchell, who had rejoined the PLP, became a Minister of that government and is now a PLP in Opposition? Who in fact is Fred Mitchell?

He was called an opportunist as he veered from one party to the next in his search for the right path to become prime minister.

In his previous life he held his traditional ceremony under the fig tree when he burned the Bahamas Constitution and sent its ashes to then Prime Minister Lynden Pindling "as a reminder of how our country is being destroyed." At the time of this act of bravado when he warned that he would "smite every enemy that dares to launch out against" him, he was leader of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). When he launched his "Third Force" in 1989, he wanted then Cooper's Town MP Hubert Ingraham (Independent) -- now Prime Minister -- to become a part of his organisation.

Mr Mitchell's ambition was to inflict a resounding defeat on the PLP. In December, 1990, he declared that Sir Lynden, the so-called "Father of the Nation" was irrelevant to the Bahamas. "It is time," he said, "that the Bahamian people consign him to the scrap heap of history."

Of course, Mr Christie, then the Independent member for Centreville, who was on the verge of rejoining the PLP, did not escape Mr Mitchell's sarcastic tongue. "He ought to be ashamed of himself walking around with his head high, calling himself Mr Centreville," Mr Mitchell commented.

"We find tremendous resentment on the part of young and old because, without so much as by your leave, he ends up back in the PLP," said Mr Mitchell.

The very same place Mr Mitchell himself ended a short time later when the FNM refused to run him as an FNM candidate.

But before they again embraced him into the fold, the PLP had dismissed him as a "political upstart and troublemaker ... a spoilt brat who deserves a serious spanking."

And so, as Mr Mitchell, wonders why Mr Stuart joined the FNM, we would like the real Fred Mitchell to stand up. Who is this man Fred Mitchell?

All we know for certain is that his one burning ambition was to become Prime Minister of the Bahamas. Has that flame gone out, or does that ambition still burn strong? It would be good to have the answers. Maybe Mr Mitchell would now oblige.

April 15, 2011

tribune242 edtorial

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Renward Wells - The National Development Party (NDP) leader wants to immediately merge his party with Branville McCartney’s Democratic National Alliance (DNA)

NDP leader wants party to join DNA

Guardian Senior Reporter

The National Development Party (NDP) appears to have dissention in the ranks as its leader, Renward Wells, is reportedly trying to have the party immediately merge with Bamboo Town Member of Parliament Branville McCartney’s newly formed Democratic National Alliance (DNA).

In e-mails leaked by at least one NDP member yesterday, Wells urged members of his party, as well as the People’s Deliverance Party, headed by attorney Paul Moss, and Workers Party leader Rodney Moncur, to join the DNA by tomorrow.

NDP members were said to be concerned that McCartney’s leadership would be automatic without members having a say.

Wells claimed that Moss agreed to join the DNA and accept McCartney as leader.

“The solution is for all of us to join the DNA, Bran leads, Paul and I agreed to that already, and the other positions voted on quickly,” said the leaked e-mail. “Obviously the NDP cannot nor do we desire to have our way in everything.”

However, a source close to Moss who did not wish to be identified, said that he never agreed to join the DNA.

NDP member Ethric Bowe discovered Moss’ position and sent a scathing response to Wells yesterday morning.

“Renward, I just spoke with Paul and he again categorically and absolutely denied what you claim in this e-mail,” wrote Bowe.

“…You are creating something far worse than (Prime Minister Hubert) Ingraham could ever create. DNA appears more dangerous than Hubert Ingraham could ever be and based on what you have done to date I would prefer to support Ingraham or (Progressive Liberal Party leader Perry) Christie than DNA.”

Bowe had expressed his desire to join the PLP if the NDP and the DNA could not come to terms.

NDP members were said to be meeting last night. Wells had called for a meeting with the DNA yesterday, but it is unclear if that was the same meeting.

On Tuesday, Wells claimed the NDP was invited to join the Free National Movement. The FNM yesterday denied Wells’ claim and said he initiated the talks.



Friday, April 15, 2011

Cassius Stuart's Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM) merges with the governing Free National Movement (FNM) Party

BDM dissolves and merges with FNM

Tribune Staff Reporter

THE Bahamas Democratic Movement has officially been dissolved after a 13-year political run, announced former party president Cassius Stuart. Party representatives joined members of the Free National Movement yesterday to announce the merger of the two organisations.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, FNM leader, presented Mr Stuart with a membership card and welcomed the new members of the party. He said months of deliberation had led to this decision.

Mr Ingraham said he admired how "tenacious and focused" the BDM has been over the years. He said the party had a "consistent message" and was "doggard and determined."

He took delight in the fact that during the Elizabeth by-election, a BDM canvaser approached him in a barber shop on the campaign trail and tried to convince him to support the party.

The BDM was the most prominent third party in recent times. It contested 12 of the 40 parliamentary seats in the 2002 election. Mr Stuart was one of the founders in 1998. He was the BDM's candidate in the Elizabeth by-election last year.

Mr Stuart said the by-election was a "wake up call" that seriously challenged his views on the viability of a third party. He said the party decided it had to be "practical and pragmatic." He said the party has always wanted to make a contribution and decided to stop sitting on the sidelines.

"We have joined the FNM because we believe that this organization is willing to embrace new leadership, new vision and new energy. While we know that this decision may be troubling for some of our supporters, we want to assure you that we believe this decision is in the best interest of our membership and our country," said Mr Stuart.

Mr Stuart said the BDM was no longer interested in "talking about the problems." They wanted to engage in "solving the problems," the members of the party believed the FNM was the best party to accomplish that task.

There were "extensive" discussions with the FNM and PLP, said Mr Stuart; however, he said the FNM were more "timely" and presented "better opportunities" to fulfil the vision of the BDM and to "maximise the potential" of its members.

Some ten executive members of the BDM joined Mr Stuart at the FNM headquarters last night to make the announcement. Mr Stuart said all of the BDM, except one member, supported the party's decision.

"The discussions leading up to this decision have in no way been easy for us. After many months of discussions and deliberations and with much prayer and fasting, we find ourselves here today. We believe that the decision to join the FNM is the right one at the right time," said Mr Stuart.

"My message over the past decade has been adding value to the lives of every Bahamian. Moving forward, the Prime Minister has assured us that the next five years will be just that, building lives. Today as we embark on a new horizon, we are confident that this union will bring brighter days for every Bahamian. As a result, we know that The Bahamas will be a safer, cleaner, and better place to live in," he said.

Mr Stuart said the BDM and the FNM have become one organisation with the same vision, purpose and objective.

Under Mr Stuart's leadership, the BDM was a harsh critic of Prime Minister Ingraham and the FNM and former Prime Minister Perry Christie, leader of the Progressive Liberal Party, during successive terms of government.

The party's position on education states that both the FNM and PLP are "clear failures."

"It is safe to conclude that both the PLP and the FNM are major failures. The same problems that afflicted the FNM in education are the PLP's worst nightmare. The question is when will we get it right? From all indications neither Mr Ingraham nor Mr Christie has the answers. These two men must be judge based on their performance record not their political foolishness and the hand writing is clearly on the wall, they both have failed," states the BDM on the issue of education.

The party has similar critiques of the performance of the FNM and PLP on crime, defence, immigration, and the environment.

In 2001, Stuart and then deputy leader Omar Smith handcuffed themselves to the Mace in the House of Assembly in protest against the "unfair gerrymandering of the constituency boundaries by the FNM administration."

They were jailed for almost two days, although no charges were brought against them, according to the party's historical account of its formation.

Over the past 11 years, Mr Stuart said his efforts were guided by a message that is entrenched in the BDM constitution: "No man, woman or child shall ever be slave or bondsman to anyone or their labour exploited or their lives frustrated by deprivation". He said this message has been "embraced" by the FNM.

In the coming days, Mr Stuart said he would file a formal application to the FNM to be nominated as a candidate in the next general election. He said no promises were made for future candidacy, but assurances were given that the former BDM members would be a part of making sure the Bahamas is a better place.

April 14, 2011


Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Public Domain poll reveals that 47 percent of the people contacted were either somewhat dissatisfied of very dissatisfied with the Ingraham adminstration

Poll: Nearly half of electorate uninterested in PLP and FNM

Guardian Staff Reporter

The latest Public Domain poll has revealed that nearly half of Bahamians surveyed are not satisfied with the current government, nearly half do not want to vote for either of the two main political parties and there is a significant portion of the electorate considering a third party.
According to the poll, 47 percent of the 402 people contacted said they were either somewhat dissatisfied of very dissatisfied with the Ingraham adminstration.

Public Domain, a new Bahamian market research firm, conducted the telephone survey between February 16 and March 11 with Bahamians across the country. Public Domain president M’wale Rahming said yesterday that the sample size has a maximal margin of error of 4.9 percent.

According to the poll, 28 percent of respondents said if an election were called today they would vote for the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP); 25 percent said they would vote for the Free National Movement (FNM); 26 percent were undecided; and 21 percent said they are unhappy with both parties and would consider a third party.

“A winning strategy for the major parties would be to secure a coalition and convince third party-minded and undecided voters to support the party,” Public Domain said in the report released yesterday to the media.

When respondents were asked the likelihood of them voting for a third political party that presented a full slate of candidates, with a mix of veteran and new candidates, 32 percent of those polled said they would very likely vote for such a group. Another 25 percent said they would be somewhat likely; 11 percent said they would be not very likely; 21 percent said not likely at all; and 11 percent of respondents were unsure.

Public Domain, however, said respondents who said they would vote for an unbranded third party should not automatically be considered third party supporters.

“Third party voters should be considered disaffected voters. They are unhappy with both parties. Their identified third party affiliation does not mean they have or will vote for a third party,” said Public Domain.

The polling results were released as at least one third party prepares to roll out its slate of candidates.

Former Free National Movement (FNM) Cabinet minister Branville McCartney has formed the Democratic National Alliance (DNA). The Nassau Guardian understands that the party already has a constitution and it is preparing to register with the Parliamentary Registration Department. A DNA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the party plans to run candidates in all 41 constituencies in the upcoming general election and it is almost done vetting about 20 candidates.

Public opinion on whether a third party would be viable has been split over the past weeks.

Rahming said their sample and data is much more accurate than a street poll, as a wider sample is captured through their automated call center.

According to Public Domain, the data was weighted by region, age and gender in order to represent the Bahamian adult population.

Rahming added that the sample is randomly taken from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and other islands.

The public opinion poll was conducted from Public Domain’s call center in New Providence, which is equipped with the latest computer assisted telephone interviewing technology, Rahming said.



With the country well on pace to set its fourth homicide record in five years, it would be useful if the political parties would published crime manifestos...

Parties must elevate level of public debate

thenassauguardian editorial

As we make the march towards the next general election the major political parties are engaging in the usual back and forth debates. One side attacks and the other responds with a defense and counterattack.

On Sunday the Free National Movement (FNM) went straight at Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie.

“Mr. Christie is overflowing with theatrical passion, endless talk and promises rarely fulfilled,” said the governing party in its statement.

The FNM went on arguing that Christie is too indecisive to be re-elected prime minister.

The PLP responded and it attacked Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

“Mr. Ingraham prefers to employ foreign workers to build roads that Bahamians can build. He employs a foreigner wherever he can. Those are the facts. The private sector has now climbed onboard and Brent Symonette is their ‘boy’. He is not our immigration minister he is the immigration minister of foreign special interests,” said the PLP.

Political banter between the parties can be entertaining at times. When written well, you can get a laugh out of the statements released. But during this election period, with so many serious issues facing the country, the parties should attempt to engage on points of policy rather than mere personal attack.

And the one area they should both focus on is crime.

With the country well on pace to set its fourth homicide record in five years it would be useful if the parties published crime manifestos – separate from the general manifesto to be published – in the run up to the general election.

A solution has to be arrived at regarding the poor state of prosecutions in the country.

Police Sergeant Chaswell Hanna published yet another comprehensive study on the homicide problem in The Bahamas – “Reducing murders in The Bahamas: A strategic plan based on empirical research.” The book is free on the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s website and it should be read by all serious current or future policymakers.

According to data in Hanna’s study, over the five-year period between 2005 and 2009 349 murders were recorded and there were only 10 murder convictions. People are getting away with murder.

The parties need to come up with solutions to this problem. We may need more prosecutors in the Office of the Attorney General (OAG); we may need better prosecutors in the OAG; we may need more investigators at the Central Detective Unit (CDU); we may need to bring back retired distinguished detectives to work as consultants with current detective to help improve the quality of police investigations.

It would help if the parties debated these issues in the public sphere this election season. What is shaping up is the same campaign we saw in 2007. The FNM says Christie is weak and the PLP spends its time responding to FNM attacks.

That campaign was not interesting the last time it happened.


thenassauguardian editorial