Saturday, July 30, 2011
Too many Bahamians are too contented about being uneducated... Too many Bahamians are too comfortable in relation to raising uneducated children... This must change
It was important that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham took time to greet 12-year-old Anna Albury outside of the House of Assembly. The girl, who is blind, was crowned Primary School Student of the Year over 115 candidates from around the country.
“I am like just any other child. I do not look at myself as having a disability. I just happen to be blind,” said the sixth grader from Hope Town School on receiving the award.
Fully blind from birth, Anna could have been placed in the School for the Blind, but her parents, Theresa and Lambert Albury insisted that she be raised normally with other children. They wanted her to do well.
With their encouragement and the support of her teachers and classmates, Anna has maintained an outstanding 3.8 cumulative grade point average.
Here in New Providence in our public school system many children with two working eyes, two working ears, two working legs and two working arms are not doing nearly as well as Anna. And they benefit from a free education through grade 12.
The national D average in the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams masks the tremendous lack of achievement in our public school system. If the private schools are taken out of that calculation, our public school system would be in the F average range. No nation can be great with that level of underachievement.
Many blame the government of the day and the education bureaucracy for not doing more to reform the public education system. Certainly, there is more that can be done on the policy and funding sides of the equation to reform our system. However, a major part of the education problem in this country is our culture. Governments and civil servants cannot make Bahamian parents and guardians care about education.
Too many parents do not demand enough from their children. Too many Bahamians simply do not value the free education that is offered.
Concerned parents, relatives and guardians are crucial catalysts to success when it comes to educational achievement. When families care about education and hold children to standards, those children do better. When families only care about proms and making sure children are dressed in the trendiest clothes at the beginning of the school year, those children do not do as well.
Our culture has assumed too much of the foolish commercial nonsense from the two cultural centers we are between the United States and Jamaica. Knowledge of the latest rap or dancehall song is high, while the literacy and numeracy levels are low in The Bahamas.
We must do better.
Education is not merely about being prepared for the job market. It is about being a reasoned human being able to understand and function independently in the community you live in. It is also about being able to participate in the development and governance of that society in many different ways.
Too many Bahamians are too comfortable being uneducated. Too many Bahamians are too comfortable raising uneducated children. This must change.
What is especially problematic about this situation is that the free education system through grade 12 was something that was fought for.
The first black government of The Bahamas in 1967 had as its mandate ensuring that all Bahamians had access to education. In the ensuing decades schools were built across the country. Now, 44 years later, many of the parents and children who are the heirs to that movement show little interest in knowledge, learning and achievement.
Ignorant people are always ruled by smarter people. A people cannot be independent if they are dumb.
Bahamians must stop making excuses when it comes to learning and achievement. Yes, education reform is needed. But what is equally needed is concern about learning and knowledge by our people. A father who is not smart should, and can, have as a goal ensuring that his children do better than he did.
He can ensure that his children behave in school and do the work assigned; he can participate in the school’s Parent Teacher Association; he can seek tutoring for his children to ensure they have the technical assistance he cannot provide.
Anna Albury, a blind girl from a small school in the Family Islands, is doing well. She is inspirational. Born with a disadvantage, she still excels.
Mothers, fathers, relatives and guardians across The Bahamas must do more to ensure that their well-bodied children do better and take advantage of the opportunities given to them. We must care more about education and learning to ensure that we, Bahamians, have the capacity to govern ourselves and to command every sector of our economy.
Jul 30, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Branville McCartney - founder of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) party is so anxious to become the next prime minister of The Bahamas that he is willing to use the sorry plight of illegal Haitians, and their Bahamian-born children to pander to the fears of voting Bahamians
IT IS a tragedy when a politician, so anxious to win an election, panders to the base emotions of an electorate. And in doing so ignores the damaging consequences that his divisive message could have, not only on this generation, but on many generations to come.
Apparently Mr Branville McCartney is so anxious to become the next prime minister of this country that he is willing to use the sorry plight of illegal Haitians, and their Bahamian-born children to pander to the fears of voting Bahamians. Such a campaign of hatred will not only split this community, but will eventually build up such an emotional force that when it breaks in years to come this nation's way of life would be completely destroyed.
One would have thought that the mass killing that targeted young teenagers in Norway these past few days would have been a sufficient tragedy to send a warning signal of what can happen when suspicion and division is built up in a community. Such an atmosphere can inspire one madman to destroy a nation's whole way of life.
Seventy-six people -- most of them teenagers -- were killed in Oslo last week because of one man's fear that Islam threatened Europe's Christian culture. Anders Hering Breivik, himself a young man, was against his country's "multiculturalism," which he believed enabled "the ongoing Islamic colonisation of Europe." And so he wrote a 1,500 page treaties on his beliefs, pleaded not guilty to committing any crime, and almost gloated over the killings, because as a self-proclaimed Christian nationalist he believed it his duty to recreate a Knights Templar in Europe to fight a holy war against Islam.
This bizarre behaviour is usually the end game in an atmosphere of hate and suspicion that can send evil sparks flying in a madman's fevered brain. One only has to read history to understand the underlying racial hatred that has sparked centuries of unrest and most of this world's wars.
Mr McCartney, founder of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), which he promises will be the next government, says that he will fight to change the country's constitution so that children born here to illegal immigrants will not be eligible for citizenship. If elected he will push for a referendum to carry out his plans.
Under the constitution, persons who are born in the Bahamas to illegal immigrants have the right to apply for citizenship between their 18th and 19th birthdays.
We agree with former PLP cabinet minister George Smith who accused Mr McCartney of "trying to pander to the xenophobia of many Bahamians who want to blame some of our social ills on people who by virtue of their circumstances find themselves in the Bahamas illegally."
And warned Mr Smith: "Political leaders should never pander to ignorance and people who are motivated by fear and this is probably what Mr McCartney... is doing."
We agree with Mr Smith. We also agree with retired Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez who sees Mr McCartney's "final solution" for Haitian children as "inhumane."
"I cannot understand anyone who is going to seek leadership in this country who is not going to deal with the situation in a humanitarian way," said the Archbishop.
And it is true what the Archbishop says. This country does owe much to immigrants. Many immigrants -- teachers, policemen, doctors and nurses -- helped build the Bahamas. Many of them came as immigrants from other Caribbean islands -- and never forget: our first black member of parliament was a Haitian.
As the Archbishop pointed out these children up to the age of 18 have known no other home.
They speak our language, they belong to our culture, their friends are Bahamian. As far as they are concerned they are also Bahamian. At the age of 18 are they to be thrown into a world that they do not know, because of the myopic prejudice of Bahamians who just a few generations before were also foreigners in a foreign land? Many of the forebears of our present Bahamians were not even born here, yet they became one with us -- flesh of the same flesh -- and put much effort into the building of this nation. What none of us must forget is at some stage or another -- and this includes Mr McCartney -- our forebears were strangers in a foreign land. Today we are all Bahamians. Were our forebears more humane than we are today?
Yes, the Haitian question is a troubling one, but Mr McCartney's solution lacks humanity. It is not the right way to go, and if through this election he builds up an even greater foreign phobia, future generations will not bless his name for lighting a spark that allowed hatred to spiral out of control.
July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Guardian Staff Reporter
Widespread copper thefts, and the theft of other metals, prompted the government yesterday to issue an order banning scrap metal exports for 90 days and the export of copper permanently.
This comes after government agencies, foreign investors and private citizens in The Bahamas all became victims over the past few years of thieves who took copper wire from job sites, homes and businesses to sell as scrap.
The thefts became so frequent and costly that the government found it necessary to make an executive order to temporarily amend the Export Control Act to stop the export of scrap metal and copper.
The new regulation on the export of scrap metal, which came into force yesterday, states: “No person shall for a period of 90 days from the coming into force of these regulations export any scrap metal from The Bahamas to any place outside The Bahamas.”
And, with regard to copper exports, it prohibits “any person from exporting any copper from The Bahamas to any place outside The Bahamas.”
In a statement released by the Cabinet Office yesterday, the government insisted that the measures were taken because of the crippling effect copper thefts and thefts of other metals have had on businesses, government utilities and private citizens.
On Monday thieves left the Department of Agriculture’s Gladstone Road Farm and the Department of Fisheries’ Gladstone Road lab complex without power to critical machines, and without air conditioning in some buildings. A large number of power cords and copper air condition tubing were stolen.
Over the past year a number of other government agencies have been robbed of copper tubing and wire, including the Bahamas Broadcasting Corporation and the Water and Sewerage Corporation.
The measures taken by the government yesterday will likely hurt legitimate scrap metal exporters during the duration of the embargo.
The government also announced in its release that better measure to police the industry will be discussed.
“The government is assessing the scrap metal industry and will engage with various stakeholders and legitimate businesses with a view to better regulating and monitoring the industry,” the government said.
Jamaica also announced yesterday that it would implement similar scrap metal prohibitions as have now been enacted in The Bahamas.
Jul 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie are nearing the end of their respective political careers... It is unlikely that either will run again as leader of their party [FNM ... PLP] beyond the upcoming general election
The Bahamas is a new independent democracy. Having just recently celebrated 38 years going it alone, our traditions, though rooted in the British system, are still evolving.
One tradition that has not really developed yet is what to do with our leaders when they retire from frontline politics.
We have only had one prime minister permanently retire thus far. Sir Lynden Pindling bowed out in 1997 after his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) suffered an overwhelming defeat to Hubert Ingraham and the Free National Movement (FNM). This was the second consecutive time Ingraham beat Sir Lynden in a general election.
Sir Lynden, however, was suffering from terminal cancer during that last campaign in 1997. He died a few years later on August 26, 2000. So in the case of the only prime minister of an independent Bahamas to retire, there was no real retirement, as he was in a battle for his life when he went away, a battle he sadly did not win.
Ingraham and current PLP leader Perry Christie are nearing the end of their respective political careers. It is unlikely that either will run again as leader beyond this general election.
Both entered the House of Assembly in 1977. The former law partners each have won a seat in each election since. Christie also served a term as a senator from 1972 before becoming a member of Parliament.
When one of these men loses the next general election, he should not be discarded. The United States has a beautiful bi-partisan tradition. When the new president is elected and an issue of national importance arises, former presidents are called into service.
Former Democratic president Jimmy Carter has embarked upon many missions, under Democratic and Republican presidents, to free Americans held by hostile regimes.
President George W. Bush called upon his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Bill Clinton after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Bush Sr. and Clinton raised money for the recovery cause.
After the Haiti earthquake in 2010, President Barack Obama called on Clinton and Bush Jr., the president he succeeded, to lead fundraising efforts.
This tradition in the United States demonstrates great political maturity. It also is smart. Former leaders have great connections, capacity and lots of unused energy once retired.
Here in The Bahamas there are many initiatives a former prime minister could lead. Education reform, gambling reform, the Haitian migration issue, tax reform, reform of the criminal justice system and health care reform are just a few of the areas a former prime minister could focus on, developing a plan for the country to address the issue under study.
For this to happen, however, that former politician would have to learn to be apolitical and able to make a contribution divorced from partisanism. The prime minister who asks the former prime minister to lead a national initiative would also have to be mature enough to set aside whatever hostilities he might have had with that politician when he was still active.
We should not relegate our retired politicians to the rubbish heap. They still have much to contribute after they officially retire. We will soon get to the point when one of our great leaders says goodbye. We hope the winner reaches out to the loser and starts a tradition of mutual respect and continued service.
Jul 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
George Smith says Branville McCartney is "pandering" to xenophobic fears over illegal immigration in an effort to gain the support of the Bahamian voters' base
By TANEKA THOMPSON
Deputy Chief Reporter
BRANVILLE McCartney is "pandering" to xenophobic fears over illegal immigration in an effort to gain the support of the country's voter base, said former Cabinet Minister George Smith.
His comments came after Mr McCartney said that he will fight to change the country's constitution so that children born here to illegal immigrants will not be eligible for Bahamian citizenship.
Mr McCartney, leader of newly formed third party the Democratic National Alliance, said he will advance a referendum on the issue if he is elected as the country's next prime minister, according to a local daily.
Under the constitution, persons who are born in the Bahamas to illegal immigrants have the right to apply for citizenship between their 18th and 19th birthday.
Mr Smith, a former Cabinet minister in the Pindling administration and one of the framers of the country's constitution, dismissed this as political pandering to illegal immigration fears.
"He's trying to pander to the xenophobia of many Bahamians who want to blame some of our social ills on people who by virtue of their circumstances find themselves in the Bahamas illegally. I think that places like (squatter settlement) Mackey Yard probably also compound it but the Bahamas has to (be) mindful that many of our ancestors have left the Bahamas and settled in other places and in some instances they settle illegally.
". . .But for the grace of God we would be like the Haitians," he added.
Mr Smith, former representative for Exuma, cautioned politicians not to fear monger for political traction.
"Political leaders should never pander to ignorance and people who are motivated by fear and this is probably what Mr McCartney - someone who I am fond of - is doing," said Mr Smith, in response to questions from The Tribune.
Instead, he said politicians should convene a non-partisan task force on constitutional reform after the dust settles from the next general election.
Yesterday Immigration and Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette said his former Cabinet colleague's latest stance is surprising. He claimed that this policy was never put forth by Mr McCartney while he served as junior immigration minister.
"When I looked at the newspaper I was amused that Mr McCartney would suggest that having been minister of state (of immigration) for a number of years and never recommended that. I'm following his immigration issues with amusement because I know that his views were not put forward (while he was in office).
"He and I had many discussions and he (was able to) put any proposal up to me and I would consider it and put it forward. I don't recall (that policy) coming from him when he was in office," said Mr Symonette.
Mr McCartney resigned from the Free National Movement earlier this year and left the Ingraham Cabinet last year.
Last week he told The Tribune that he quit as a Cabinet minister because his repeated efforts to address the country's immigration problems were "blocked" by "the man himself," Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
July 26, 2011
Bishop Simeon Hall has called on all politicians to resist the temptation of turning the controversial issue of capital punishment into a “political football”
Guardian Staff Reporter
As the national debate on the issue of capital punishment continues, a religious leader has called on all politicians to resist the temptation of turning the controversial issue into a “political football”.
Bishop Simeon Hall’s comments came in a statement yesterday. Hall is the former chairman of the National Advisory Council on Crime (NACC). One of its key recommendations was for the resumption of capital punishment.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie declared his party’s support for capital punishment Saturday night and promised to carry out the law if the PLP wins the next general election. Christie was speaking at the PLP’s Eastern Region Constituencies Conclave.
Hall said Bahamians must examine what each party did on the issue while in office rather than the “political rhetoric they espouse” during the pre-election period.
“To be frank, the record shows that both major political parties have been reserved on capital punishment,” said Hall.
No hangings were carried out under the PLP administration led by Christie.
The last time capital punishment was carried out in The Bahamas was on January 6, 2000 when David Mitchell was hanged. Five of the 50 men hanged in The Bahamas since the 1920s were hanged under the FNM between 1997 and 2002; 13 were hanged during the 25-year rule of the late Sir Lynden Pindling; and the remaining 32 were executed between 1929 and 1967.
With nearly 80 murders having been recorded already this year, The Bahamas is likely to set a forth murder record in five years this year. Hall called for cross-party efforts to address the crime problem.
“The progress against the criminal mayhem, which presently confronts us, will only take place when a by-partisan national approach is created and executed by all in power,” Hall said.
During the conclave on Saturday, Christie pledged to take bold action to reduce the crime rate in the country if he is re-elected.
“No effort will be spared to restore the safety of our streets and homes,” he said.
“An urgent priority for the next government is the battle against crime. There is fear on our streets.”
In the run-up to the 2007 general election, the Christie Administration was criticized over the crime issue by the Free National Movement, which was in opposition at the time.
Jul 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Wikileaks Bahamas documents: The Christie administration offered to send Bahamian troops to help quell a violent rebellion in Haiti and discussed the possibility of making Fred Mitchell joint leader of that country
THE Christie administration offered to send Bahamian troops to help quell a violent rebellion in Haiti and discussed the possibility of making Fred Mitchell joint leader of that country, newly released Wikileaks documents claim.
According to confidential cables sent by US Embassy officials in Nassau at the height of the crisis in early 2004, if diplomacy failed to contain the crisis the Bahamas government felt military assistance would be necessary and was willing to commit "perhaps as many as 100" troops to a multilateral force - whether or not it was led by the United Nations.
The documents also claim then Foreign Affairs minister Fred Mitchell was close to being named one of a threesome of "wise men" to be charged with overseeing that country's affairs.
The three cables, sent by US Embassy officials in 2003 and 2004, detail the Christie administration's response to the rapidly developing crisis as understood by embassy staff.
They claim Mr Mitchell and former prime minister Perry Christie were very concerned about the violence - particularly in terms of what it would mean for Haitian migration to the Bahamas.
One cable quotes former Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Melanie Zonicle as saying that in Mr Mitchell's view, while the preferred mechanism for dealing with Haiti was the UN, "any outside intervention would be preferable to continued and increased chaos."
Another reiterated the importance of illegal immigration to local politics, noting that Mr Christie - despite being an "overprogrammed prime minister" - repeatedly requested and put aside a full hour for an urgent meeting to inform US officials of his position on Haiti.
That position, the cables claim, placed a comparatively low priority on the human rights of the Haitian people.
One of the cables, issued in April 2003 by notoriously combative US Ambassador Richard Blankenship (see story, page 7), said that fear of "mass migration" was the Bahamas government's top priority, but that an immigration agreement with the Aristide government stalled over the Haitian demand that amnesty be granted to the illegals already in the country.
It said: "Such a concession would be suicide for Mitchell in the xenophobic Bahamian political landscape. Pursuit of this agreement and any other means to slow down migration will continue to push any concerns for democracy and human rights into the backseat."
A February 2004 cable quoted Mr Christie as saying that if large numbers of Haitians started arriving in Bahamian territory, the government would not offer asylum, but rather rely on the United States to help with repatriation.
"The Bahamas, he said, simply had no capacity to maintain large numbers of migrants for any period of time. Declaring that he had no concert with 'those liberals' on this issue, he declared that there would never be asylum in the Bahamas for Haitians.
"The total population of the Bahamas was, he said, 'less than that of a small town in the United States. We simply cannot do what Amnesty International and other groups would insist on us'."
The February 2004 cable quotes Mr Christie as mentioning the possibility that Fred Mitchell could play a "new and significant ongoing role in Haiti as the third member in a tripartite committee that, Christie seemed to believe, would effectively serve as a kind of 'Council of Wise Men' in governing the country."
Under this scenario, Mr Mitchell, as the representative of "CARICOM and others" would have governed Haiti along with a new Haitian prime minister and a representative of the opposition.
The former PM is quoted as saying President Aristide had reservations about the plan and for his own part, Mr Christie would prefer the third member to be French or American - although he seemed to think Mr Mitchell was the US's preference. The cables do not clarify if this was the case.
However, they do paint a picture of a prime minister who is a bit naive about US policy towards Haiti.
Despite the hard line on the Haitian regime sustained throughout the crisis - culminating in claims that the United States government abducted President Aristide - Mr Christie appears in the cables as appealing to the US to share his sympathy for the Haitian leader.
The February 2004 cable notes that the former PM "appeared comfortable in his newly-assumed role of international mediator," mentioning that he had spoken with Aristide "at least a dozen times" recently and at least once a week that day.
Mr Christie is said to have stressed that he and Mr Mitchell felt an agreement should be reached that conferred some "dignity" to Aristide, and that he sympathised with the Haitian leader's complaint that he was being asked to take unconstitutional actions.
He added that he does not believe Aristide would be opposed to working with the opposition on the joint appointment of a new prime minister and cabinet, but simply did not want to be "left out of the process."
Mr Christie also seemed confident that Mr Mitchell and US Assistant Secretary Roger Noriega would fly to Haiti later that week and "continue to work all sides of the issue."
Mr Mitchell, on the other hand, is quoted in a 2003 cable as saying the US position on Haiti was "hard-minded" and calling for more dialogue.
Another cable compared Mr Mitchell to Mr Christie, saying that: "While his decision-making style may be protracted and indecisive, Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie is also an impressive, dynamic, charismatic and ebullient presence and an indefatigable seeker of consensus. For the purpose of promoting peace in Haiti, his personality complements that of Foreign Minister Mitchell, which is steadier, stealthier, and more methodical."
July 25, 2011
BY PHILIP C. GALANIS
The past week in Great Britain will long be remembered for the shocking disclosure that the print media in that country sank to an all-time low with the revelations concerning the nefarious and illegal lengths to which the members of the media there would go to get a story. Many of that country's citizens sat in amazement, revulsion and shame, listening to both the hearings of the British Parliamentary Select Committee that investigated the behavior of the English press, as well as to the penetrating questions that the beleaguered Prime Minister, David Cameron, was compelled to answer in Parliament regarding those developments.
Just when some of us felt that this low and criminal type of journalism would never rear its ugly head in our Commonwealth, in walks Mr. John Marquis who, during his tenure as managing editor of The Tribune, oversaw the transformation of that newspaper from a somewhat respected newspaper engaged in the dissemination of news, to one with tabloid status. Therefore this week, we would like to consider this - does the return of John Marquis as a regular contributing columnist to The Tribune signal the return of a person possessed of journalistic integrity or has he been drafted as a political assassin with one singular objective in mind, namely, doing everything he can to dissuade the Bahamian people from returning the PLP to office when the general election is called next year? Moreover, is he the embodiment of the questionable type of journalistic integrity demonstrated by his fellow Brits and is he bringing that back to infect our young journalists?
The answer to the first question can readily be found in Marquis' own narrative. He began his column last Wednesday with the following words: "Soon after the 2007 general election, when the PLP were unceremoniously dumped into what we all hoped would be the garbage bin of history... the (PLP) couldn't possibly seek the public's support again with Perry Christie at the helm." This is unadulterated dishonesty by Mr. Marquis and at the outset should clearly signal what his motives are. Just who is he referring to when he says "we all hoped (the PLP) would be dumped into the garbage bin of history"? Mr. Marquis' assertions are deliberately dishonest and intentionally incorrect.
Why does he choose to completely ignore the fact that in the general election of 2007, not only did the PLP win 18 of the 41 seats in Parliament but did so with a very large percentage of votes? Has he completely dismissed the fact that of the nearly 137,000 votes cast in that election, 64,637 or 46.98 percent of the voters supported the PLP, compared to 68,547 or 49.82 percent for the FNM? In case he lacks the capacity to do the math, there was a difference of only 3,910 votes or less than three percent between the winners and the losers. So deceitful and dishonest is his characterization of "we all" – arrogantly dismissing nearly half the Bahamian voters - that he lacks any credibility for whatever follows in his inaugural incursion into Bahamian politics after a two-year hiatus.
PLP politics is none of John Marquis' business, but as a political assassin, his obvious objective is to do all that he can to present twisted untruths and nonsensical non-sequiturs about the PLP and why Mr. Christie remains the leader of that party. He laments that because Mr. Christie remains at the helm of the PLP, "doesn't say much for the PLP..." and by his own assertion, Marquis admits that he is "judging from afar -- and I confess four thousand miles of ocean do blur one's perspective.” It seems that his "blurred perspective" and his clouded and fogged up mind cannot fathom the fact that Mr. Christie has legitimately fended off all challenges to his leadership in democratic exercises within the PLP, surviving as the duly elected leader. That is the process by which we govern ourselves. Sorry, Mr. Marquis, if you cannot understand or accept that.
But it gets worse. Mr. Marquis continues his gratuitous and condescending comments about some of the other leaders of the PLP. He denigrates Mr. Philip “Brave” Davis, the properly elected deputy leader, although he concedes that he sees Davis as "the only possible leader-in-waiting, the sole heir apparent to Pindling's tarnished crown." Marquis cannot refrain from writing anything about the PLP without deriding Sir Lynden and his historic political legacy. Then he offers a backhanded compliment to Dr. Bernard Nottage for his "comparative commonsense and rationality." Dr. Nottage is unquestionably and consistently the best prepared, best researched and most methodical debater in Parliament on the PLP's team. It is unmistakable that Marquis really hates the PLP and shows it in every poison and patronizing word that he pens.
But he reserves his most caustic and critical comments for Mr. Fred Mitchell who he describes in a feeble and failed attempt at a classical witticism as "Marley's Ghost of Bahamian politics." He devotes nearly half of his entire column to castigating an individual who is perhaps one of the brightest minds in the PLP and one of the hardest workers and most visible member of Parliament in his constituency. It is clear that Marquis is really afraid of "Dred Fred" and sinks to a new low by deriding Mitchell for his "five disastrous years as minister of foreign affairs." It is Marquis' disdainfully dishonest and derisive depiction of Fred Mitchell that should be relegated to the dust bin. History will probably record that Fred Mitchell was one of the most active, best informed, Caribbean-centric and worldly foreign ministers of modern Bahamian politics.
Mr. Marquis, you are a foreigner and your brand of "journalism" in Bahamian politics will result in your becoming even more persona non grata than you were when you lived among us. Our politics, sir, especially PLP politics, are none of your business. We resent your incursions into our domestic affairs and we regard your methods as highly suspect, just like your compatriots whose underhanded work has been exposed as the unlawful practice that it is.
We got rid of British colonialists of your ilk on July 10, 1973, thirty-eight years ago, and your brand of "journalism" is not welcome here. We suggest that you keep your thoughts about Bahamian politics to yourself. However, if you cannot restrain yourself for whatever reason from trying to play the role of an expert, at least confine yourself to the local arena and cease to represent yourself as the authoritative voice on all things Bahamian for international news media, circling the globe on the worldwide web with your vicious verbiage that no more represents a balanced and fair picture of The Bahamas as does the local newspaper where your column appears.
But Bahamians are onto you now. We have seen what it is you are trying to do and this time we won’t stand for it. We will not swallow the gutter journalism you call truth. This time, one thing is certain: If you persist in such pernicious political polemics, parading as jingoist journalism, your vitriolic and venomous invectives against the PLP will have the unintended consequences of encouraging Bahamians to register to vote and to cast that vote to return the PLP to office in next year's general election.
In so many ways, you remind me and other Bahamians who remember, of another foreigner who sought to influence our domestic politics. Paul Knaur, a far smoother, tactful, rabid racist relic of yesteryear, sought in the late 1950s to coach the United Bahamian Party (UBP) as to what they needed to do to retain political power, despite the inevitable and jubilant march toward Majority Rule. Of course, we know what eventually resulted from his efforts. It was the UBP, unlike the PLP, in your words, that was relegated to the garbage bin of history.
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 email@example.com.
Jul 25, 2011
We live in a sick society, not because of immigrants... because of biggity Bahamians who hate themselves and don't want anyone to know about it... That self-hate is the cancer that is eating us from the inside out
Tribune Staff Reporter
ON THE matter of squatter settlements, the government is being misleadingly vague about how much information it has on the squatter problem when in fact the government has been mining information on squatter settlements in an organized manner for years. The most recent data from a government study that was internally published in January 2011 indicates there are 38 documented squatter settlements in New Providence, for which only 10 are known to be on government land.
In the 26 cases where the land tenure is known, the overwhelming majority - 61 per cent - of these housing communities are located on private land. Between 2004 and 2010 several of these settlements were converted into housing sub-divisions. Pride Estates, Dignity Gardens, Mandarin Close Subdivision and Ross Davis Estates all stand where squatter settlements once existed.
In the case of Pride Estates, reliable sources have told me that Bahamian police officers and defence force officers who were squatting on the land counted themselves amongst the many who got land in the regularized subdivision. I say that because Bahamians love to put a colour, an accent and a status to squatters when very often they are speaking about those who they count amongst their own.
All in all, the total size of squatter settlements in New Providence, measured by structure count, is 940, according to well-placed Tribune sources. There was a net increase in the size of squatter settlements between 2004 and 2010, with the number of structures increasing by 407 and decreasing by 238. Well placed sources say the government knows exactly how many Bahamians and how many legal Haitians inhabit those dwellings. This would seem plausible based on the mere fact that immigration raids into squatter settlements target those who are illegal. This is not to dismiss the fact that residents with status are harassed, sometimes to a severe degree, during these operations.
Bahamian people have sanctioned the growth and development of squatter settlements by virtue of their own administrative negligence, and failure to establish a proper plan for the integration of its immigrant community. As a result, people, Bahamian and non-Bahamian, have established families and livelihoods in squatter settlements. Regardless of how one judges the living standards in these settlements, they are at the end of the day housing communities. And how irresponsible is it for Bahamian people to believe they have the unabated right to destroy these communities at any and all cost or expense. That is a recipe for social upheaval, which is what Bahamians continue to bring on themselves.
History and geography played a large role in the integrated society in which we now live, but we were also participants in the creation of this reality, and now we selfishly do not want to accept who we are. Every Bahamian family, including my own, has a story to tell over the past 38 years of independence and beyond of a Haitian national who they employed, a Guyanese national who they were taught by or a Jamaican national who wiped their backsides as a child. We should not be ashamed of that. How could we? "These people" formed our community; in many instances they became a part of our biological family. And now we want to raise hell because the immigrant community over the years integrated into the society as best as we allowed them to. Now we want to raise hell because people who were born and bred in the Bahamas want to call themselves Bahamian.
The people living in squatter settlements have developed communities as best they could in order to serve a Bahamian labour force that employs them. Now, Bahamians think of Haitians as our slave masters, those who once were good enough to cook our food, wash our clothes and nurse our suckling babies, but are not good enough to live in our houses, eat our food or cohabitate with our children.
The Haitian community has been pushed to the margins by the very people who gave birth to them, literally and figuratively. Many of the so-called upstanding Bahamian men in society, who have sweet-hearting down to a science, have children born of Haitian mothers roaming the streets with no clue of their heritage. These are the children we claim have no right to call themselves Bahamian?
In trying to have a balanced debate about the Haitian community and the problems we so readily ascribe to them I had to ask myself a question: Why is it that in the face of facts, evidence and rational arguments that prove many of the claims levelled against the Haitian community to be false and unfounded that Bahamians are still mulish, inflexible and unyielding in their beliefs?
I found my answer with Dr Amos Wilson, a man who ranks amongst the top black scholars in the modern world. He says it is because the individuals who hold these beliefs have a personal interest in the persistence of those beliefs. In other words, no manner of logic or evidence can dissuade them otherwise, because their beliefs are not based on logic or evidence. They are based on self-reinforcing tall tales. He was speaking about the general beliefs that persistently linger about the African race, but his thoughts are more than relevant in relation to our beliefs of the immigrant community.
Unfortunately, Haitians take the heat, but the Bahamian view of "the other" is all the same, except when it comes to those who arrive in private jets with their pockets fat and their suntan lotion in toe.
Some Bahamians have a strange concept of a pure blooded Bahamian or a real Bahamian that I simply cannot grasp. You would be hard pressed to find a Bahamian of any and every means over the age of 40 who does not have an immediate family connection to another Caribbean island, the United States or the old empire.
So who are the real Bahamians? We have some people around here who are the descendants of other people who came here as "masters", procreated on Bahamian soil, passed on property and wealth gained under an illegal an illegitimate colonial system, and happened to stick around until we negotiated an independence. Are they the real Bahamians? Many of these people, who are the inheritors of ill-gotten wealth: are they the real Bahamians?
Between May 2007 and June 2010, the government approved 10,012 permits to reside, and another 22,839 permits between May 2002 and May 2007. Like it or not, the Bahamas has an enormous immigrant community, living and working legally in the country. In that same eight year time period, the government granted 3,227 citizenships; 2,747 permanent residency applications and 3,792 spousal permits. Bahamians need to wake up. We are a multicultural society and our misdirected hate is unnecessarily stirring social tension.
Our immigration policies are literally tearing families apart. I grew up with a friend whose professional parents lived here on a work permit. We grew up together from primary school all the way to high school. The government eventually naturalized her and her siblings but refused to do so with her parents, who had been contributing members of society for decades. My friend's parents were force to move back to their country of birth after establishing their roots in the Bahamas and growing their seeds in Bahamian soil. Many Bahamians would look at this case as an example of the successful implementation of our immigration policy. I say what a shame.
If I were a Bahamian-born child of Haitian parents, who were legally employed to a Bahamian family in the 1970s, and I came of age to apply for citizenship in the 1990s, and because of some procedure inefficiency, or some misplaced political cowardice, 20 years later I was still without citizenship, I would rightfully be upset and fully deserving of some due process. Why, if the government announced, it was going to take my file out of the filing cabinet and figure out what was the hold up, should Bahamians be outraged at that?
Had my grandfather not been a Progressive Liberal Party supporter in the early 1990s and my Jamaican-born mother not been a beloved teacher of many Bahamian children in the public school system, her application for citizenship might have been counted amongst those now infamous 1,300.
I am so sick of politicians manipulating information to stoke xenophobic fears for their own political advantage, and the nerve that they would do so in the name of their love for the Bahamas. Branville McCartney, who is under advisement by the one and only Loftus Roker, is currently milking all he can from the furor around the Ministry of Housing's activities in Mackey Yard and recent disclosures by Brent Symonette, Minister of Immigration.
After Mr McCartney claimed the government was attempting to "secretly regularize thousands of non-Bahamians on the run up to election," Mr Symonette refuted the claims and suggested that Mr McCartney was perhaps misled by the grapevine's reporting of a new initiative at the Department of Immigration.
That initiative he said was the government's employment of 12 people to investigate the status of some 1,300 applications that have been sitting dormant for years.
These applicants have nothing to do with the former residents of Mackey Yard, or the current subdivision being developed.
And yet, Mr McCartney, I suppose in his attempt to make aged political cheese, released his latest statement on the matter of "the 1,300" to say: "The DNA, along with scores of Bahamians across the length and breadth of the Bahamas, is increasingly troubled by the government of the Bahamas' attempt to secretly regularise thousands of non-Bahamians during an election season, while at the same time admittedly following the fashion of the Christie administration and its old 'land give-away' practices."
To use this government initiative, which will hopefully give hundreds of entitled applicants their due process, to advance the completely invented notion that the government is attempting to "secretly regularize thousands of non-Bahamians on the run up to election" is blatantly disingenuous. It is a political strategy taken out of the crudest of political play books being advanced by the so-called "different" political party.
There are sinister efforts at play, trying to tie the Department of Immigration's efforts to the alleged land sale at Mackey Yard.
No one is truly interested in an explanation, the facts of the matter, or doing their own investigation. The many people who are feigning outrage over the airways are simply satisfied with playing up the possibility in order to feed their own egos, their misplaced senses of superiority and righteousness, and to obtain a political advantage.
They are not interested in social unity; they are not interested in peace; they are not interested in taking responsibility as a society.
We live in a sick society, not because of immigrants, because of biggity Bahamians who hate themselves and don't want anyone to know about it.
That self-hate is the cancer that is eating us from the inside out.
July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
The slave mentality in The Bahamas is alive and well... and the time has come for Bahamians to open their eyes... The indoctrination of Africans (Blacks) into mental slavery and European culture continues even today in the Bahamian society
BY DEHAVILLAND MOSS
Crime is out of control; it’s the master’s fault, aka the government. Illegal immigration is out of control; it is the master’s fault, aka the government. The economy is bad; it’s the master’s fault, aka the government. The master will fix the problem. He knows best.
But what are “you” doing about it? We should know by now that the change starts with us. During the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Africans were illegally sold as slaves. Many of these Africans ended up in the Caribbean and thus were forced into a new way of life.
The indoctrination of Africans (Blacks) into mental slavery and European culture continues even today. The celebration of Guy Fawkes Day, Halloween and that “foreign is better” are just a few examples of the former in The Bahamas. We as Black Bahamians are mentally enslaved and even though we are free physically, we face some of the most dangerous times in our history. One hundred and seventy-seven years after the proclamation was read to free slaves in the British colonies, Bahamians still continue to have a slave mentality.
Slaves in The Bahamas worked on small plantations when compared to other Caribbean islands, and the treatment of Bahamian slaves was much better than their Caribbean counterparts. James Stephen, an abolitionist wrote, “the provisions and stock raised on the plantations did not provide the remuneration received by planters in other colonies, ‘but to slaves the effects were ease, plenty, health and the preservation and increase of their numbers, all in a degree, quite beyond example in any other part of the West Indies”. (Source from The Story of The Bahamas by Paul Albury, chapter 14, p126). In my view, this explains the basis of the way that we act toward our “Master” today.
Bahamian slaves accepted their master as a good person and viewed him favorably. Our Caribbean counterparts were treated more harshly than us and as a result they had a fundamental distrust of their master. Could this explain why they are more aggressive than us and the fact that our attitude is more laissez-faire?
Since 1967, in The Bahamas, the black master (government) replaced the white master (government). There was a changing of the guard, but most Bahamians have not seen the kind of progress that is to be expected. Black Bahamians in particular still do not possess the majority of the land; we still do not own a major hotel and we are still second-class citizens in our own country. We now have Black masters as our gatekeepers but they are continuing the historical trend of our demise, albeit in the same subtle nature. Yet we elect the same people over and over. When will the cerebral revolution come?
Look at the way that our country is run with little or no objection from Bahamians. The government sold BTC and there were only about 1,000 marchers on Bay Street. In fact, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes literally squawked when asked about the effectiveness of the march for BTC. Lawyers illegally sold land owned by Arawak Homes to unsuspecting Bahamians. Due to the large scale of Bahamians who were defrauded, there should have been major campaigns initiated by Bahamians in protest of this. The government refuses to do all it can to help curb our crime and immigration problems and its policies have failed miserably, specifically over the last two decades. Additionally, government policies have caused the price of land in The Bahamas to soar so high that the average Bahamian can no longer afford to buy land (except for those in Mackey Yard); and yet Bahamians sit back and do nothing. Sadly, we still believe in the old slave adage that “Master (aka the government) knows best”.
Listening to the talk shows daily, concerns by Bahamians appear to be on the rise. They call in and seem to expect more accountability from the government representatives. This is a good thing and this type of activity on a wide scale can certainly help break this slave mentality that we continue to be suffering from. I feel proud as a Bahamian when callers suggest that the issues affecting us should be looked at for what they are worth. Forget party lines. For too long, we have been using our party biases and not looking at issues from a nationalistic point of view. We must realize that when our ancestors were enslaved, the underlying tone would have been to regain freedom for all in the British colonies and this bode well for all involved.
Bahamians by heart are not a fighting people when it comes to challenging “the master”. In fact, the only time I can say with certainty that Bahamians would come together and fight the master is when he “messes with their pay”. From the Burma Road Riot on June 1st, 1942 to the teacher’s general strike in the mid 80s, Bahamians came together in solidarity to protest wage disputes. In fact, before the Burma Road Riot, even the American workers who were earning higher wages were agitating for the Bahamian workers’ wages to be increased. Foreigners were given preferential treatment even back then. Does this sound familiar? In the case of the general teachers’ strike, the government of the day said that the Treasury was broke. Yet, after the teachers’ salary was increased, then Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling and his Cabinet increased the salary of all members of Parliament.
If the government had told BTC workers that they would be receiving pay cuts you would have seen a different outcome from the employees. Contract after contract can be given to foreign contractors without a whimper of dissatisfaction from Bahamians. Let me go on record as saying that I was utterly surprised that the present government was able to take overtime pay away from customs and immigration officers with virtually very little opposition from the Bahamas Public Service Union membership.
The recent debacle of the government in the Mackey Yard sub-division speaks again to our slave mentality. Here we are as Bahamians are just sitting back and allowing the government to do what it wants to. Let the “master” handle it is the conclusion of many Bahamians. There are Bahamians though, whose minds have bypassed this slave mentality, but these numbers are infinitesimal.
Just as the slave trade was supported by Africans themselves, who helped capture their own countryman for a few dollars, more we have replication going on in The Bahamas in 2011. Many in the remaining middle class in The Bahamas are utterly quiet as to the state of affairs because they are still getting their hefty salaries. They are still able to live their lives, buy what they want and travel when they want. In their eyes because they are not directly affected by these adverse policies, they choose to turn a blind eye. They are not speaking out and are allowing their “brothers” to be further humiliated and defrauded. In the same vain, thousands of people turned a blind eye to the slave master during the slave trade because they were thinking about self and not country.
The slave mentality in The Bahamas is alive and well and the time has come for Bahamians to open their eyes. We cannot just leave it in the hands of “the master” and hope and pray that the correct decisions will be made, and take for granted that we will always have bread to eat. Bahamians, we need to change our sorry, lethargic and lackadaisical attitude towards the myriad policy decisions that affect us. We will continue to suffer as a people in our own country if we don’t.
As Disraeli, the great English statesman said, “Nurture your mind with great thoughts for you will never go any higher than you think”.
Jul 20, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
As bad as things are for the FNM, voters will not automatically flock to the PLP just for the hell of it... For the PLP to win, someone must find Perry Gladstone Christie and tell him, “Wake up.”
Oppositions are supposed to oppose. The opposition leader is supposed to lead this charge. He is the prime minister’s constitutional rival. He is supposed to want that job so badly that he challenges the PM and his government on points of policy and achievement frequently in the public sphere. The public should see the fire in the eyes of the opposition leader.
Perry Gladstone Christie is not this type of opposition leader. He is rarely seen or heard when it comes to issues of national importance. Even in the Parliament, Christie has little presence. He often speaks outside of the prime time period and does not add anything new or challenging to the debate.
Without Bradley Roberts, who has a compulsion for sending press releases, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) would have almost no public voice. Statements from Christie on matters of national importance come as frequently as Chickcharney sightings in the forests of Andros.
We all know that Christie has no interest in being opposition leader. He was stunned at being unseated as PM in 2007. Nonetheless, he has the role and should do more on the national stage to look like someone who should be PM again.
The Free National Movement (FNM) is in freefall. The roadwork in New Providence, crime, the Mackey Yard Haitian issue and the frequent power outages have made this a summer of discontent for much of the population.
With all this ammunition, Christie says little to nothing. Absence from commentary on national issues conveys apathy. And who wants to elect a leader who appears so disinterested that he says almost nothing.
Christie must remember that he and Hubert Ingraham no longer have a duopoly on power with the premiership going from one friend to the other. Others have entered the political arena and people are at least listening to them.
The default position previously was to vote for the ‘other’ party when the governing side ran out of gas. But with the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) menacing, Christie should realize that some anti-government votes will go that way if he keeps on looking like the missing leader.
A general election will be called in less than a year – in fact, sooner than that. A vibrant opposition leader would be doing interviews, on talk radio, hosting televised town meetings and much more to demonstrate his interest in the issues and to bring forward the solutions his government would implement.
Sadly, the few times when Christie makes an utterance he only talks about the past. If he is talking about crime he mentions his government’s old urban renewal program; if he talks about the economy he mentions the anchor project deals his government signed; if he talks about housing he mentions the homes built under his administration’s watch.
As bad as things are for the FNM, voters will not automatically flock to the PLP just for the hell of it. For the PLP to win, someone must find Perry Gladstone Christie and tell him, “Wake up.”
Jul 22, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) party says: ...Bahamians are feeling more and more that persons who are in The Bahamas illegally seem to have more rights and privileges than they do
THE Democratic National Alliance said it is furious that the illegal immigration problem has been allowed to grow to such an extent that Bahamians feel they are "second, third and even fourth class citizens in their own country".
The newly launched party issued statement yesterday saying it believes Bahamians deserve "better treatment" and called on the government to put its people first - in all things.
The DNA said: "The party, along with scores of Bahamians across the length and breadth of the Bahamas, is increasingly troubled by the government of the Bahamas' attempt to secretly regularise thousands of non-Bahamians during an elections season, while at the same time admittedly following the fashion of the Christie administration and its old 'land give-away' practices."
The party was referring to the announcement that the government is working to regularise 1,300 foreign nationals whose applications have been "gathering dust" for years.
The government also said it would sell the track of land known as Mackey Yard - formerly the site of a shanty town - to Bahamians, but that former Bahamian squatters would get first preference.
This has led to speculation that the government is regularising former Haitian squatters in order to sell them the land, in return for political support.
The FNM had denied this, pointing out that both initiatives follow established procedure and that the former PLP government actually regularised more foreigners during its last term than the present administration.
It was also announced that none of the former squatters have actually applied for the Mackey Yard land.
Nevertheless, according to the DNA, as a result of these initiatives, "Bahamians are feeling more and more that persons who are here illegally seem to have more rights and privileges than they do".
The party claimed the government allows illegals to:
* squat on land illegally
* use electricity illegally
* sell products without the proper business licenses
* set up businesses without permission
* build structures without permission
The DNA also called on the government to identify those who they intend to sell the Mackey Yard land to, state whether these persons are citizens by birth or recently regularised, and if they were regularised, when.
The party also asked the government to reveal how many Bahamians are waiting to buy land from the government, and say how long they have been on the waiting list.
DNA leader, Branville McCartney, said that during his time as minister of state for immigration, he tried to create a unit to humanely remove shanty towns.
"My hands were practically tied and I met stern objection to this initiative," Mr McCartney said. "I was told that I was grandstanding."
Mr McCartney told The Tribune yesterday this one of the reasons he quit the FNM.
July 21, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Focus is needed on reforming our parliamentary process... The legislature is one of three branches of government... Let’s start with a simple thing: schedule questions to the prime minister
The phone hacking scandal in the United Kingdom involving the now closed tabloid News of the World (NoW) has dominated world news the past few weeks. It’s really the perfect scandal. It involves money, power, the media and politics. The only thing missing is sex. And who knows, as fast as this scandal is evolving, that may come too, soon.
The actions of NoW have led to police investigations, criminal charges and parliamentary inquires. British Prime Minister David Cameron has been under fire because he hired a former NoW editor, Andy Coulson, to be his director of communications. Coulson has stepped down from this post because of questions about his role regarding the scandal while at NoW.
The opposition Labour Party has questioned Cameron’s judgment in hiring Coulson. Opposition Leader Ed Milliband has challenged Cameron for weeks in the House of Commons on the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions.
The weekly question period is a delight, and an important part of the democratic process. Every Wednesday the prime minister answers questions from the dispatch box beginning with questions from the opposition leader. These are wars during which the PM takes heat from his constitutional rival, giving the same back in return.
The questions are usually topical and the PM is pressed to answer even when he prefers not to. After the leader of the opposition is finished other MPs ask their questions. The question period lasts for about 30 minutes.
In the Westminster system PMs are the country’s CEO. As chairman of the cabinet, he is charged with ultimate responsibility for the actions of the government. Therefore, via Questions to the Prime Minister the government is held in the dock to account in Parliament for decisions made every week Parliament meets.
Alas, there is no system of questions to the prime minister in our parliament. There is almost no question system at all in practice. Opposition day is supposed to be every second Wednesday in the month when the House of Assembly meets.
On this occasion, the opposition is supposed to be able to pose questions. However, clever governing sides simply do not meet on this day and if the opposition does not push, there could be no opposition day for a long time.
It is sad that many of our politicians are so Third World in their mentality that a governing side would attempt not to have to answer questions and an opposition would be so pathetic that it would let its rights be violated.
Rules need to be adopted in Parliament to ensure that the PM has to take questions on a weekly basis as is done in the UK. If that is too much for our politicians then we could adopt a hybrid system through which questions are posed to the government in general on a weekly basis. The member most capable could answer those questions.
For this to work, though, both sides would have to respect the sacrosanctity of Parliament, its rules and conventions. Leaders should want to answer questions. Why? Well, because it proves that they are tough enough, smart enough and in charge enough to withstand any assault from rivals.
Conversely, the opposition should want to ask questions to prove it is better able to run the affairs of state and to weaken the position of the governing side.
The contrast of these two positions should create beautiful intellectual wars in the legislature. It is still a joy to watch old clips from Margaret Thatcher at the dispatch box taking questions from her rivals.
When independence was granted by the British to its colonies, there was a fear that many were not ready for self-governance. The concern was that an elite segment of some of these native societies simply wanted to be in charge knowing little of, and having even less respect for, the traditions and conventions of Westminster governance.
Our parliamentary process needs improvement. We simply touch on one thing that needs reform in this piece. Other problems include the non-existent committee system; members reading from texts they did not write rather than debating issues they studied; and the slow process of relevant legislation coming forward.
We condemn in the strongest terms the myopia of all of the majority rule and post-independence governments for not building a new parliament. The inadequate buildings currently being used are more than 200 years old. We need not explain again why they are inadequate. One needs only to visit to see why.
Focus is needed on reforming our parliamentary process. The legislature is one of three branches of government. Let’s start with a simple thing: schedule questions to the prime minister. If they can’t figure out how to do it, our politicians should just go online and print out a copy of the British process. It’s been going on for quite a while.
Jul 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Branville McCartney, leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) says: ...REPEATED efforts to address The Bahamas' immigration problems were "blocked" by "the man himself", Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham
BY NOELLE NICOLLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
REPEATED efforts to address the country's immigration problems were "blocked" by "the man himself", Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, claimed Branville McCartney, leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).
Mr McCartney said he resigned as Minister of State for Immigration after Prime Minister Ingraham told him on "repeated" occasions that his efforts amounted to "grand-standing."
Mr Ingraham could not be reached for comment.
"When I resigned I said my hands are tied. We are being stagnated. My hands are tied. Those are the words I used. When you have persons telling you, 'no one told you to do this'; 'you did not get my permission to do that'. When you have persons ahead of you telling you that, what are you to do?" Mr McCartney asked.
"We do not have the political will to deal with this illegal immigration problem. We can deal with it, but we just need the political will. We won't eradicate it totally, but we can bring it down to a manageable level. The Free National Movement (FNM) does not have the political will to deal with it for some reason. Every time I tried to do things there was a problem," he said.
Mr McCartney said he had three key initiatives that were not supported in the FNM Cabinet. One initiative was a recommendation to amend the Immigration Act to make it an offence for Bahamians to "harbour illegals."
This amendment, he said, would place a greater burden of responsibility on land owners and landlords, as well as employers if they rented or leased to and employed illegal immigrants.
"That was something I had put forward and it was dismissed. That is not an offence in the Bahamas. I tried to put it by way of an amendment, but it was dismissed. The political will was not there. At the end of the day nothing came out of it," said Mr McCartney.
Asked if the amendment would open the way for discriminatory practices like Arizona-style profiling, Mr McCartney said, "No man."
"What is discriminatory if I say, I am not going to rent to you because you are here illegally. If you have a lease agreement, you can have that in there. You ought to confirm the status of your tenant. It is not discriminatory. I do not see how that comes into play. You ought to be in a position to say, 'Look, the law says I can be fined if I rent to someone illegally.' The onus ought to be on the landlords to make sure whoever they rent to is here legally," said Mr McCartney.
During his tenure at immigration, Mr McCartney said he also started a special unit to deal specifically with the problem of "shanty towns." The unit was cross-departmental, including representatives from the Ministry of Housing, the Attorney General's Office, Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Social Services, among others.
The unit was operational for under a year, leading up to Mr McCartney's resignation. During its time of operation, Mr McCartney said, he was "catching a lot of hell for it."
"The fact of the matter is, we started going into these shanty towns from a legal and humane basis, and we started the process of dealing with the elimination of these shanty towns. And then I was told I was grandstanding. My hands were tied. I subsequently resigned," said Mr McCartney.
At every step of the way, Mr McCartney said he met up "against a brick wall." It was no different, he said, when he launched a programme called "immigration watch" in 2009.
Although it was designed for implementation across the country, the programme targeted the southern end of New Providence, particularly the Marshall Road area, according to Mr McCartney, because that is where "a lot of boats come in."
Immigration watch was set up similar to a crime watch. Community members would assist the law enforcement agencies by participating in an "immigration watch." They would call the government agencies if they heard about illegal activity, or spotted incoming ships they believed were suspicious looking.
Mr McCartney said he was told "that is not a policy of the FNM and why am I doing that. I shortly after resigned. Everything I tried to do, they did not have the political will."
"I am not talking about doing it in an inhumane way. I am talking about doing it right. I am not talking about being discriminatory. I am talking about doing it right. Over and repeatedly I was told from the man himself that I was grand standing," said Mr McCartney.
July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
...questions of money in Bahamian politics — and questionable money in politics in The Bahamas still linger with a new election season upon us
By CANDIA DAMES
Guardian News Editor
A bill to govern money in politics that was drafted more than three decades ago under the Pindling administration was dead on arrival, National Review can reveal.
The comprehensive proposed act “to make provision for the registration of political parties; for the regulation and control of political contributions; for the public funding of elections and for other purposes incidental thereto and connected therewith” never made it to the halls of Parliament.
Perhaps it’s because there was no political will to do so.
Thirty-one years after the campaign finance bill was drafted, there are still calls from some politicians — and from other Bahamians — for a law to govern money in politics.
But there is still no political will to do so.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said earlier this year he does not believe that campaign financing laws are necessary, adding that the government cannot "legislate honesty."
However, Ingraham said he would have no difficulty whatsoever disclosing the sources of his political financing.
Ingraham said campaign finance laws are found to be very ineffective in countries where they are in place.
"The United States is a good example," he said.
"The campaign financing laws are very ineffective. What they spend on elections in the US is unbelievable and they have campaign finance laws. You cannot legislate honesty. The dishonest will be dishonest no matter what you do. That's why people still murder other people even though the law says 'thou should not kill'."
Under the Christie administration, while there was a stated commitment to such a law and even attention given to the issue by the much-touted constitutional review commission, there was no action on bringing legislation to Parliament.
After Prime Minister Ingraham revealed recently that Opposition Leader Perry Christie had neglected to forward recommendations for changes to the Parliamentary Elections Act months after being invited in writing to do so, Christie spoke with us about the kinds of changes he wished to see.
High on his list was a desire for a campaign finance law, perhaps similar to the 1980 bill he reportedly had knowledge of, but which continued to catch dust on a shelf.
“It is critical really to the integrity of elections,” said Christie recently, adding that the Progressive Liberal Party was looking at laws passed in the region “to ensure that we not only make sound recommendations, but recommendations that have been tested”.
He said the Ingraham administration ought to be addressing the issue of money in elections.
Asked why he never did, Christie expressed regret that other priorities meant that his administration never got around to bringing a bill to govern campaign finances.
“Everything evolves in a country and when I first came into office I actually spoke very strongly about a code of ethics, and I wanted to bring that into law and I didn’t do it,” he said.
“And so, you look back and you know that you had an opportunity to influence laws for the good and you regret, but that is what politics is all about — the priorities that we had; the pace of governance has put me in a position where you can look back and say ‘yeah I did a lot of things, but my goodness, I wish I had done that’.
“...You always have regrets and so I’m not going to be distracted by the fact that we had the opportunity and we didn’t.”
THE 1980 BILL
George Smith, who was a member of the Pindling Cabinet in 1980, said he was aware of discussions Pindling had about the need for a campaign finance law. But he never knew a bill was actually drafted.
Not many people did apparently.
Under the 37-page bill obtained by National Review as part of its examination of the money in politics issue, a registrar of political parties would have been appointed.
That person would have been able to, at any reasonable time, enter the premises of a political party, party branch or candidate registered under the Act to examine its books, papers and documents and would have been able to request such information as he may reasonably require to discharge his responsibilities.
If the bill had been passed, contributions to political parties, party branches and candidates could only be made by individuals, companies and trade unions.
No person or entity would have been able to make a contribution using money that did not belong to him, or that was given to him by another person or entity.
The bill also mandated that all moneys contributed to political parties, party branches and candidates in excess of $100 could only be made by a check having the name of the contributor legibly printed, signed by the contributor and drawn on an account in the contributor’s name or by a money order signed by the contributor.
The bill would have required contributions to be paid into the appropriate depository on record with the registrar of political parties.
It also mandated that any anonymous contribution valued in excess of $25 received shall not be used or expended, but shall be returned to the contributor if the contributor’s identity could be established, and if the contributor’s identity could not be established, the contribution would be turned over to the registrar and forwarded to the treasurer of The Bahamas.
Under the Act, if it had been passed, contributions by any person, company or trade union would have been limited to $10,000 per year to each party, and $1,000 to any registered party branch.
It also said that no political party, party branch or candidate registered under the Act could directly or indirectly, knowingly accept contributions from any person normally resident outside The Bahamas or from any company that does not carry on business in The Bahamas or from any trade union that is not registered in The Bahamas.
The bill would have also mandated that all political party have a chief financial officer responsible for proper records, ensuring that contributions are placed in the appropriate depository and financial statements are filed with the registrar of political parties.
The chief financial officer would also have been responsible for ensuring that contributions consisting of goods or services were valued and recorded.
The bill also would have mandated that party borrowing from financial institutions were properly recorded.
Under the law, all moneys to be used for a political campaign by a candidate out of his or her own funds would be deemed to be a contribution.
In addition to covering a number of other key areas, including campaign advertising, the bill also outlined a number of offenses.
For example, any chief financial office of a political party, party branch or candidate registered under the Act, who contravened any of the provisions would have been guilty and liable to a fine of $1,000.
Again, the bill was drafted in 1980.
Had it been passed by Parliament, no prosecution could be instituted without the consent in writing of the attorney general.
It still is unclear today why the bill was never brought to Parliament.
George Smith offered a view in this regard: “I guess it didn’t get on the front burner because the party was winning based on its performance. In many constituencies in the country, like in Exuma where I ran, though wealthy individuals ran against me I won handsomely, as did my colleague, Livingston Coakley,” he said.
“It wasn’t considered a priority. I think we were preoccupied with other things like social legislation, a works program, trying to expand the tourism plant. We were trying to expand agriculture and the fisheries industry, growing the economy with some diversification.”
Smith said political parties should win elections based on their philosophies, programs and quality of candidates.
“If we use that approach money would only matter when those things are not in the forefront of what a party is running on,” he said.
In politics as in life, money does matter.
I remember the first press conference hosted by Perry Christie after he lost the government in 2007.
The one question he tried to avoid was the one that should have been the most obvious: What do you believe led to your defeat?
After insisting that it was a matter that would require deep consideration, Christie said he believed the Progressive Liberal Party was outspent by Hubert Ingraham and his Free National Movement.
Indeed, political parties have scraped together substantial sums of money in their bid for power.
A 2003 U.S. diplomatic cable previously reported on by The Nassau Guardian said Tommy Turnquest, then leader of the FNM, revealed that his party would need to spend between $150,000 and $250,000 on a potential by-election in the then Holy Cross constituency.
In that same cable, obtained through WikiLeaks, former PLP MP and businessman Franklyn Wilson told a U.S. Embassy official that his party spent around $7 million on the 2002 general election campaign.
Because money donated in The Bahamas to political parties is donated with the understanding that the donors’ identities will not be publicly disclosed, political parties are under an ‘unofficial obligation’ to keep the sources of party financing secret, noted the cable.
The Americans either had a fascination with The Bahamas’ lack of campaign finance laws, or deep concerns about this, because they widely discussed the issue of money in politics in their cables to Washington, DC.
They noted in a 2004 cable: “Both of The Bahamas' two major political parties live in glass houses when it comes to campaign contributions.”
The cable traced the Mohammed Harajchi controversy — a situation in which political contributions backfired in a very nasty and public way.
The Iranian businessman claimed that he had been approached, either directly or via intermediaries, by ‘90 percent of the (Christie) Cabinet’ for campaign contributions, had helped to refurbish PLP headquarters, and had underwritten several PLP political rallies, among other things.
Harajchi denied that his contributions (allegedly $10 million) were designed to gain reinstatement of his bank's operating license, which had been revoked in 2001.
At a press conference, the PLP emphasized that it is neither illegal nor improper for political parties in The Bahamas to accept donations from individuals, and highlighted attention on Harajchi's confirmation that he had received no favor or promise in exchange for his financial donation.
In a 2006 cable, still on the subject of money in politics, an American diplomat wrote that it is “widely accepted” that the government’s extradition of convicted drug dealer Samuel ‘Ninety’ Knowles would lead to “withdrawal of an important source of election funding”.
“As one Cabinet minister observed, there are no controls or limits other than the conscience of the politician,” the diplomat wrote. “In addition, money can come from any source, including international donors.”
The cable said millions of dollars were allegedly obtained from “questionable sources” in the 2002 campaign.
Almost 10 years after that historic election, questions of money in politics — and questionable money in politics — still linger with a new election season upon us.
And while there are several key bills the Ingraham administration must bring if it is to fulfill legislative promises, a money bill like the secret 1980 document is not among them.
Jul 18, 2011
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) party says that it is "gravely concerned" about the government's move to regularise 1,300 foreigners this close to a national election, as it could be seen as "nothing more than a political ploy aimed at securing votes, as they desperately seek to remain in power."
THE Democratic National Alliance has again hit out at the Department of Immigration - this time complaining that citizen classes left in place by DNA leader Branville McCartney are being "circumvented" in the regularisation of thousands of immigrants.
Mr McCartney, who served as minister of state for immigration under the FNM before breaking with the governing party, issued a statement yesterday saying the classes would have ensured applicants could speak English, recite the national anthem and pledge of allegiance, and had an appreciation of Bahamian culture, our national heroes and "various other vital aspects of our country."
However, in an earlier interview, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette said the classes stopped while Mr McCartney was still minister of state.
In any case, Mr Symonette said, the classes were only "a one-morning issue" and not a comprehensive programme that lasted weeks.
Nevertheless, the DNA says it is "gravely concerned" about the government's move to regularise 1,300 foreigners this close to a nation election, as it could be seen as "nothing more than a political ploy aimed at securing votes, as they desperately seek to remain in power."
The party said the claim that the government's only motivation is the fact that the immigrants' files have been languishing in filing cabinets for years, is an "insult to the intelligence of the average thinking Bahamian."
"Answers like these continue to give the impression that the government feels as if it can get any old thing past the Bahamian people, as it has been doing for many years."
The DNA challenged the government to put Bahamians first in their thought process, and - in the absence of the Freedom of Information Act that it promised to enact before the end of its term in office - give an account to the Bahamian people of how many non-Bahamians have been regularised in the past year.
July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
No banking system is currently risk free... That includes the Bahamian banking system... Although it, along with Canada, managed to survive the downturn of 2007/2008 reasonably well... As the Bahamian banking system is currently structured, it too, is subject to failure. The next international banking collapse, however, is likely to be massively larger and more severe
Protecting Bahamian banking system from next global collapse
By JOHN TOMLINSON
From a speech delivered
to the Nassau Institute
WITH the current threats to the state of world economies:
* Sovereign debt at levels unprecedented,
* Governments unable or unwilling to deal with levels of expenditure,
* Taxpayers beginning to revolt,
* Gold at an all-time high, and
* Highly destructive natural disasters on the increase, who knows what event is going to trigger the next collapse? We can only be confident that something will.
When it does, we can also be confident that American Banks will, once more, be found to be wanting.
They remain holding massive levels of sovereign debt.
Massive levels of toxic mortgages still remain on their books. A new avalanche of foreclosures is heading in their direction.
In Europe, Greece approaches another bail-out, Portugal is receiving one and other countries are on "watch."
The world is awash with debt: sovereign debt, corporate debt and personal debt are each at record and barely manageable levels.
No banking system is currently risk free. That includes the Bahamian banking system. Although it, along with Canada, managed to survive the downturn of 2007/2008 reasonably well, as the Bahamian banking system is currently structured, it too, is subject to failure. The next international banking collapse, however, is likely to be massively larger and more severe.
Can we protect our banks and our deposits? Yes, I believe so.
Before we attempt to look at solutions, however, I would like briefly to review the history of money and banking so that we may better understand what needs to be done.
God did not create money. Man did. Money is not some God-given inexplicable entity over which we have no control. Man created money in response to having settled on the land and making human beings dependent on exchange for survival. If there are problems with money we can and must sort it out ourselves.
One of the requirements for any fair market is an accurate measure of exchange value. We need to know what the fair value of the product of our own expenditure of energy is compared to the fair value of the product of someone else's energy.
In the first instance we judged through barter. Barter, of course, didn't work for every exchange and the need soon arose for a commonly accepted medium of exchange. Accuracy of the measurement of exchange value was - and remains - the key to fair exchanges.
Many products were tried. Some deteriorated over time and their exchange value diminished.
Eventually gold became accepted throughout the world as the most accurate and useful product or commodity to use.
1. It did not deteriorate over time.
2. It is homogeneous. Therefore, it can easily be divided into smaller portions of equal purity and used for exchanges of smaller exchange value.
3. It is scarce. Therefore it takes a great deal of human energy to find and refine.
In most matters gold has the attributes of a successful medium of exchange. That is why gold lasted for centuries as the most trusted and most accurate "money".
Security was another thing altogether. If you had one gold coin, you could carry it with you and sleep with it and protect it. Ten got a bit lumpy! One hundred became downright uncomfortable.
Even for one hundred gold coins, it might not have been practical to build a strong room or a strong box. People began to consider where to store their gold coins safely.
Goldsmiths had sufficient stocks of gold to be able to afford to build a strong room. They stored their gold on shelves in their strong rooms. Some of them had extra space on their shelves. Some people began to store their gold on the shelves of their local goldsmith and goldsmiths would charge them a storage fee.
The goldsmith would give each person who stored gold with them a receipt for the amount of gold stored and a form, upon which they would accept instructions to deliver that gold, or part of it, to someone else. Today, we call that form a cheque.
Those who stored their gold on the shelves of their goldsmith found it very convenient and believed it to be secure. The practice grew.
A shelf in those days was known as a 'bank'. The goldsmiths who stored gold for others eventually became known as 'bankers' and their businesses as 'banks'.
As their businesses grew and more and more people stored their coins with them and their shelves became fuller and fuller, bankers soon noticed that, as people brought new coins for storage and others withdrew their coins or issued cheques which the bankers honoured by giving coins to the payee, only the first few rows of coins moved. Some came and some went from these first few rows but the coins at the back remained on the shelves and did not move.
Bankers, driven by their own greed, soon began to take some of the gold coins which sat at the back and loaned them to earn themselves 'usury' or 'interest 'as we call it today. They reasoned that no-one would be the wiser and that they could return them before the people to whom they belonged might notice or claim them back.
The bankers who did this knew full well that what they were doing was wrong, fraudulent and illegal. They also knew that, if this treachery were to be discovered, they would no longer be trusted to store other people's gold.
Therefore they developed the practice of always behaving impeccably; always appearing to be circumspect and extremely prudent. This was the beginning of the need to maintain confidence in banks.
Of course, the reason it became necessary to maintain confidence in banks was that, upon examination, there was absolutely no reason whatsoever to be confident. The banks were misrepresenting the amount of gold they had on their shelves and for which they had issued receipts.
What fraud? What misrepresentation? You may well ask. Well, the person who received the borrowed gold coin would have bought something with it and the seller would have received the borrowed gold coin in the exchange. The seller would have lodged this "borrowed" gold coin with the bank for safekeeping. The seller would then have received a new receipt for the "borrowed" gold coin. But, the original depositor would also still have his receipt for the same gold coin. Thus, the banker would have issued two receipts against the same gold coin.
That is a clear misrepresentation, and a clear fraud.
As the volume of deposits increased, bankers began to issue standard receipts. They would pre-print a number of receipts for, perhaps one, two, or three gold coins payable to the bearer. When one or more gold coins was deposited, bankers would give the depositor one of these pre-printed receipts with the precise number of gold coins already printed on it.
In the belief that these pre-printed receipts were fully backed and freely exchangeable for gold, people soon began to trade these receipts rather than the gold itself.
Of course, banks soon began to lend their paper notes as well as gold coins and when the recipient deposited the paper notes in the bank, the bank would issue them with a receipt for the paper money. Thus, banks would have issued three receipts against the original gold coin deposited. The fraud became larger. Today there are few limits to the amount of misrepresentation that is permitted. From the day the first banker loaned the first of his depositors' gold coins, it was impossible to reconcile the total of all receipts issued with the amount of gold available to honour them. The gold-backed monetary system was finally destroyed by this impossibility.
At each stage in this destructive process, gold itself was blamed by the bankers for being too restrictive on their ability to lend. The reality was that banks were too busy producing fraudulent receipts purporting to represent more gold than the banks or even Fort Knox actually held.
In 1811 and 1848, two judicial decisions in the UK legitimized this fraudulent practice by determining that the instant that a depositor puts money into a cheque account, title transfers from the depositor to the bank.
From that instant, the bank actually owns the money and can do with it as it sees fit. From that instant depositors became no more than unsecured creditors of banks and secured creditors now have first claim on the money in your cheque account!
Did you know that the money in your check account is not yours? Did you know that secured creditors of your bank have first claim on your deposits? Did you realize that banks are gambling with your budget money?
Since those dates, banks themselves have owned all the money in them. It is not your money anymore. The banks can do what they want with it.
The money-lending operation of banks is no longer a fraud - legally.
But, the mechanism has not changed and thus still produces the same misrepresentation.
Misrepresentation is a fundamental part of the onward lending of depositors' funds.
Here is the root cause of both risk and moral hazard in the banking system. It is this root cause we must attack to make banks completely safe.
What are some of the most serious side-effects of the onward lending of depositors' funds by the banks?
1. All of the money in the banks belongs to the banks - not to depositors.
That gives bankers enormous power. If you or your business needs money, banks can provide it - but, on their terms. If you don't meet their criteria you have no access to it.
2. One of their criteria is that you must already have sufficient other assets to repay any money borrowed easily, if necessary. Those without sufficient assets (the poor) are thus excluded from access to the bulk of the money-supply.
That's enough history. What is the position today?
1. No banks hold enough 'cash' to meet all withdrawals simultaneously.
In 2007/2008 the Western banking and monetary system faced massive collapse. Why? For the same reason the gold system collapsed. Every time banks issue new loans, they create new money. Today money is a digital figure. Banks credit the borrower's account with the amount of the loan. The total deposits increase and the money supply increases. But, the amount of 'cash' available to meet the now increased claims doesn't increase. No bank holds enough cash to meet all withdrawals at the same time. When a 'rush' occurs, banks look to 'lenders of last resort' to bail them out.
The quality of 'collateral' held by many banks in the US today remains suspect. Many banks continue to hold 'toxic' assets in the form of foreclosed mortgages at their original loan value. They have not been required 'to mark to market'. They can afford to continue to hold them because the Federal Reserve lends them money at the rate of 0.0025 per cent whilst banks lend it to the government at 3.5 per cent. These two combined, have hidden the real state of too many American banks for too long.
2. The system of Central Banks as lenders of last resort has failed.
Banks used to depend upon Central Banks as lenders of last resort to bail them out in the event of a rush. In 2007/2008 the Central Banks alone couldn't do it and the taxpayers had to bail them out.
Bankers have always lent to their point of imprudence in pursuit of maximum profit. This pursuit first destroyed the gold standard. Then it destroyed the Central Bank standard. Now they are dependent upon taxpayers. But, taxpayers are in revolt. Will they continue to bail out banks? I think not. I hope not.
3. The world is awash with debt.
Yet, there is a hue and cry to 'get banks to lend again'. We don't need more debt. The last thing we need is more debt. What we need is more investment. Equity investment can get the economy moving again without the drag of repayments. Repayments take capital back out of a company limiting its ability to grow and employ more people. Contrary to popular belief, banks do not provide capital. They provide debt and debt is a burden. Capital is not a burden. Capital is an asset.
4. The authorities are not trying to remove risk from the banking system. Bankers are too powerful - they control access to all the money and they provide governments with the loans with which governments buy voters. The authorities are not trying to remove risk. They are merely trying further to mitigate risk in the banking system as it is. They are not trying to remove moral hazard. They are merely trying further to mitigate moral hazard.
Both risk and moral hazard arise from the UK court decisions of 1811 and 1848. If you want your deposits in the Bahamian banking system to be safe, to be protected from the next banking and monetary collapse, both risk and moral hazard must be removed from the Bahamian banking system.
This will require a change of law which returns title of their deposits to Bahamian depositors. Ownership of the money in your cheque account must be returned to you.
5. The prospects for the US dollar are not looking good.
The Federal Reserve Bank continues to print money to support government overspending. The effects of the money already printed have not yet fully worked themselves through into wages and prices.
The money-supply thus continues to increase and, as banks begin to lend once again, the rate of increase will accelerate enormously. The value of the US dollar will then plummet to new and unprecedented lows.
Do we want the Bahamian dollar to plummet as well? I certainly hope not. The cost of living will skyrocket. The social and economic consequences are unthinkable.
If we wish to protect the Bahamian dollar, I believe we have little choice but to sever our present ties to the US dollar.
To make our banking and monetary system completely safe, the Bahamian government must also enact new legislation.
To make the UK banks safe, Lord Caithness put a Bill (that I had had drafted) into the House of Lords on January 30, 2008. That Bill was not enacted and expired at the end of the last parliament.
Had it been enacted and thus become law, the UK banks would not have failed.
In the new UK parliament, a new Bill has already been introduced to the House of Commons to return title to depositors and the Earl of Caithness is ready to introduce another Bill (to return title to the depositors) to the House of Lords following a debate on the banking system.
This new Bill will make a good template for legislation in the Bahamas.
Passage of a Bahamian Bill to return title to depositors will reverse in the Bahamas the effects of those mistaken judgments made in 1811 and 1848 in the UK. Then, your cheque account deposits will once more belong to you. It will be your money - not the bank's money. Banks will then have a fiduciary responsibility to you. They will not be able to lend your money. Only you can do that.
You will, of course, have to pay for the services of storing and distributing your money. Storing your money has never been free. You have paid for it through inflation. As I hope I have demonstrated, the largest producer of inflation is, in fact, the onward lending of depositors' funds. That will stop. The only inflation produced after that will be from government printing of money.
The current rate of inflation is in excess of 3 per cent per annum. No bank will charge you that to store your money for you. Most likely, you will be paying 1 per cent or less.
You are currently paying distribution fees. That will continue.
Banks will not be able to lend your deposits. They will need to set up funds in which you may buy shares or units. These funds will then make investments. They will invest the money you transfer to them when you buy shares or units. Instead of the banks investing their money, you will be investing yours.
You will be entitled to your share of the investment profits that banks have been making and keeping for themselves.
Your money will come out of your cheque account and enter the cheque account of the fund in which you invested. Total deposits will not change. Under the new legislation, each bank will be required to maintain its own cheque account. Then, when you pay bank fees, that payment will leave your account and enter the account of the bank.
Total deposits will not change. The Bahamian dollar will not be being debased and the money supply will be able to be accurately measured and controlled.
Once the government has enacted this new legislation and banks may no longer lend depositors' funds, there can be no inflation in the Bahamian banking system and monetary system unless the central bank prints new money.
What this means
1. The Bahamian banking system will then become the strongest banking system in the world.
2. There will be no circumstances under which the Bahamas will need to call upon the IMF to bail it out. The Bahamas could then withdraw from the IMF. Not many are aware that under the rules of the IMF members may not back their currencies with gold.
3. The Bahamas could return to the gold standard if it so wished.
As a result, the Bahamian currency could become in demand as a reserve currency - it certainly would be sought as a 'safe haven'. The financial services sector would boom. Investment in the Bahamas would increase significantly.
Other currencies will continue to depreciate. The Bahamian dollar will not.
* The price of all imports will decrease. The price of foodstuffs, gasoline, medicines and other basics will fall and wages will purchase more. Everyone will feel better - as if they have had a wage increase.
* Existing foreign currency debt would be repayable with fewer and fewer Bahamian dollars.
* Exports will become more expensive - and that includes the costs to tourists. Tourism will need to focus more and more on higher-income tourism. They will demand better services and thus we will have to train our workforce accordingly. Canada had to make similar adjustments when its currency jumped 50 per cent rather abruptly.
The alternate is less appetizing. The thought of remaining tied to the US dollar and allowing the Bahamian dollar to join the US dollar as it heads toward oblivion is very frightening indeed.
After having enacting the required legislation, there will still be an imbalance that will need to be addressed. At the moment of conversion of the Bahamian banking system, the banks will still not have sufficient cash to meet withdrawal.
We in the Bahamas are very fortunate because the Central Bank of the Bahamas has been very careful in its supervision of banks here, and this shortage of 'cash' can be easily resolved.
At the end of last year, the banks had deposits of B$1,205,033,000 in cheque accounts. They held cash of B$113,117,000 plus deposits with the Central bank of B$518,706,000. This left them short by B$631,833,000.
Banks also hold B$1,093,244 of Treasuries and other Bahamian Government securities.
If the Bahamian Government bought back B$631, 833,000 of those securities for cash, the banks would then hold B$1,205,033,000 in deposits for depositors and B$1,205,033,000 in cash.
Bahamian banks would then be 100 per cent free from risk and 100 per cent free from moral hazard? They would be fully safe, whatever happened to the banking system of the rest of the world.
In addition, The government would save $30 million per year on interest costs and the banking sector would increase its profits by $33 million.
1. The world banking system is likely to suffer a much larger collapse than that of 2007/2008. Therefore, we ought to take the necessary steps now to strengthen the Bahamian banking system.
2. The banking system needs to be fully protected because we use it to store our money - the money we set aside to meet our family and our business budgets. We need it stored safely - both free from theft and free from loss of purchasing power.
3. We can and should strengthen and protect the Bahamian banking system by passing new legislation which returns title of their deposits to depositors and liquidating sufficient bank investments to ensure that banks hold sufficient 'cash' to return every deposit simultaneously.
4. The Bahamian dollar is currently tied to the US dollar. The US dollar has been falling in value and, as a result, so too has the Bahamian dollar. I believe the US dollar is set to fall precipitously. Do we wish to allow the Bahamian dollar also to fall precipitously? I do not. I hope you too, do not. I hope the government does not.
5. The Bahamas can withdraw from the IMF.
6. The Bahamas could return to the gold standard.
7. Economic growth could then continue in the Bahamas regardless of the state of the rest of the world.
All of the above is achievable if we can encourage the government to pass legislation to return title of their deposits to depositors.
Once this is accomplished and the banks are fully protected, we will still have to remain vigilant and pro-active to ensure that an open and free market is developed and maintained.
This is a necessary precondition for all the remaining economic benefits to occur.
July 18, 2011