Tuesday, January 31, 2012

...are there any ‘sexy’ or especially thought-provoking campaigns that should be more closely watched in the upcoming general election?

Sexy races to watch pt. 1

Consider this

By Philip C. Galanis

The three major political parties have named their entire rosters of 38 candidates for the upcoming general election, which, from all present indications, seems destined for the middle of April to early May.   That is, of course, unless the prime minister decides to irreverently ignore the Lenten season which runs from February 22 to April 8, 2012, something he did in 1997 when general elections were held on March 14.  On that occasion, the FNM won 34 seats to the PLP’s six, establishing the precedent to disregard the Lenten season for political expediency, with no disadvantage to the FNM.

This week we would like to Consider This…given the current compilation of candidates, are there any ‘sexy’ or especially thought-provoking campaigns that should be more closely watched in the upcoming skirmish?  We can think of several and suggest that those worth watching closely are Bamboo Town, Montagu, Fort Charlotte, Long Island, The Exumas and Ragged Island and both Andros seats.

Bamboo Town

Bamboo Town is perhaps the sexiest of all races and is shaping up to be perhaps the most interesting race to watch.  Absolutely none of the candidates now drafted will actually represent the party to which they initially belonged.  They are all transplants.  Branville McCartney, the leader of the newly-formed Democratic National Alliance (DNA) not long ago was a FNM minister.  The Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) standard bearer, Renward Wells, until recently, was the leader of the National Development Party (NDP) before joining and being nominated by the PLP.  Before recently joining the FNM, its candidate, Cassius Stuart, was a founding member and the leader of the Bahamas Democratic Movement which was formed in 1998.  Craig Butler, the independent candidate, was an officer of the PLP until recently being denied a nomination by his former party.  So, each of these candidates began his political career wearing other colors.

The person with the most to lose is Branville McCartney, because, as leader of the DNA, if he loses, by convention of the Westminster parliamentary system which we follow, he should resign as that party’s leader.  That scenario would be even more interesting if some of his fellow candidates win their seats and he does not.  Supposedly, the successful candidates, if any, would have to elect a new leader from those who are successful.  In this particular battle, McCartney must have calculated that his former FNM votes could quite likely be cannibalized by the FNM.

There are several important considerations here.  First, in the 2007 election, the PLP did not contest Bamboo Town.  In that election, as presently constituted, the FNM polled 1,261 votes as opposed to independent candidate Tennyson Wells’ 999 votes.  It is reasonable to assume that most of those were cast by PLP supporters who did not have a ‘horse’ in the race.  Secondly, in its present incarnation, Bamboo Town has six polling divisions that were previously in the Kennedy constituency.  In 2007, in those polling divisions, the PLP received 835 votes against the FNM’s 730.  Hence, again as presently constituted, the combined PLP/independent votes would have totaled 1,834 compared to the FNM’s 1,991.

The real test here will be how many of Bran’s FNM voters last time will support him this time around, and will Cassius be able to attract sufficient support to win or will he split the FNM vote which will then work to Renward’s advantage?  And, finally, how well will Craig Butler fare?  Bamboo Town will be the ‘mother of all races’ to watch in 2012.


Montagu is also garnering intense interest.  This seat has always been represented by the FNM standard bearer.  The current candidates are Ben Albury (DNA), Richard Lightbourne (FNM), and Frank Smith (PLP).  The most amazing development in this constituency is that, while it is called Montagu, there have been significant changes.  Montagu is now comprised of 12 polling divisions from St. Thomas More, where last time the FNM and PLP polled 1,359 and 1,508 votes, respectively; five polling divisions from Montagu, where the FNM and PLP polled 1,086 and 330 votes, respectively; and one polling division from Marathon where the FNM and PLP polled 81 and 145 votes, respectively.  Based on the total votes cast in 2007, the FNM and PLP polled 2,526 and 1,983 votes, respectively, and assuming that all things remain equal, the FNM would appear to have a decided advantage by 543 votes.

However, Frank Smith has great personal appeal with an effective ground campaign and superlative ‘street smarts’, while Richard Lightbourne is generally perceived to be a lackluster candidate.  The spoiler factor here will be important because Ben Albury is also a very attractive candidate and will likely cannibalize FNM votes.  Despite the apparent FNM advantage here, this contest will have more to do with personal appeal and voter connectivity than brand loyalty.  This will be a fascinating race to follow.

Fort Charlotte

Fort Charlotte will be another very interesting race.  The veteran Zhivargo Laing (FNM), and newcomers Dr. Andre Rollins (PLP) and Mark Humes, chairman of the DNA, will contest that seat, which is presently represented by Alfred Sears (PLP).  This constituency is also now a composite of most of the polling divisions of Fort Charlotte (nine polling divisions or parts thereof), two polling divisions from Killarney and a part of Killarney polling division number two.  Based on the 2007 election results, as presently constituted, last time the FNM and PLP polled 1,637 and 1,700 votes, respectively.  These figures do not include the parts of the polling divisions that have been changed.

While this race should be won by the PLP it is too close to call particularly given the campaign experience of the FNM’s veteran candidate, albeit he was rejected in Fort Charlotte in 2002, versus the rookie factor of the PLP and DNA candidates.  Furthermore, it can be reasonably assumed that regardless of the reason for Zhivargo’s move from Marco City in Freeport to Fort Charlotte, Ingraham has made a calculated wager that he would like to ensure a victory for his “erstwhile son” – a victory that was questionable in Marco City.


The prime minister realizes that if he is to form the next government, he has to keep Bamboo Town and Montagu in the FNM win column and would like to increase his number by adding Fort Charlotte, particularly because he believes that he will lose ground in Grand Bahama given his government’s dismal performance there and that island’s anemic economic profile during the last five years.

Next week, we will review the prospects for the ‘sexy’ and significant races on Andros, on which the prime minister has publically declared he has set his sights, Long Island, and The Exumas and Ragged Island.

Jan 30, 2012


Sexy races to watch pt.2

Friday, January 27, 2012

Branville McCartney - Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader's gross error in judgement in relations to his party’s MICAL candidate, Delano Munroe ...who is facing a criminal charge... ...stealing by reason of employment...

The DNA leader’s mistake

thenassauguardian editorial

Branville McCartney, leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), is new to politics.  He is just finishing his first term as a member of Parliament.  Yet, he leads a party which hopes to have a permanent presence in The Bahamas.

In a story in The Nassau Guardian on Wednesday the DNA leader admitted that he knew that his party’s MICAL candidate, Delano Munroe, was facing a criminal charge when Munroe was made a candidate by the party.  Munroe has been charged with stealing by reason of employment.

All individuals are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law in our country.  Munroe should be allowed to defend his name in court and should not be in frontline politics while this matter is pending.  McCartney should know this.  He is an attorney, a MP and a party leader.

“We are looking into it and we will make a statement once we have looked into it further,” said McCartney on Wednesday.

He said the party will determine the future of Munroe’s candidacy pending the investigation and the eventual outcome of the court case.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and Opposition Leader Perry Christie have been in the House of Assembly since 1977.  They have been MPs for parts of five different decades.  A component of McCartney’s appeal to some voters is that he is a ‘fresh face’.

The major criticism of McCartney, however, is that he does not have the experience to be prime minister.  Consequently, those who are considering voting for his fledgling party are evaluating all of his decisions to determine if this criticism is true or not.  Selecting and keeping Munroe as a candidate does not engender trust among these potential supporters of the DNA.

Running candidates with complicated lives can cost votes.  In the 2007 general election the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) ran Shane Gibson after embarrassing pictures of Gibson and Anna Nicole Smith in an embrace were published in The Tribune.  Gibson won his Golden Gates seat, but the PLP lost the election.

The Free National Movement (FNM) has continued to attack Gibson since 2007 on his record as the minister of housing in the last PLP administration, questioning his administration of the affairs of the ministry.  Yet, the PLP has nominated Gibson again to be a candidate in the 2012 general election.

Reasonable observers would agree that the Anna Nicole photos caused the PLP great embarrassment and votes.  The PLP, for some reason, sticks with Gibson.  We are not saying that he did anything wrong.  In politics some people simply become liabilities because of negative voter perception of the issues they face.  Leaders who cannot ensure that these individuals serve from behind-the-scenes, or not at all, demonstrate that they are either not strong enough to make this happen or that they are out of touch with the public mood.

McCartney has made a mistake.  He should inform Munroe that he should take a break from the frontline until the matter is resolved.  If cleared of the charge, Munroe would be able to reenter frontline politics and state his case as a potential political candidate.

Jan 27, 2012

thenassauguardian editorial

Thursday, January 26, 2012

If doctors and politicians want to attract medical tourism to The Bahamas, they need first to inspire confidence in Bahamian medical services among Bahamians themselves... ...Putting the legislation that already exists to work on behalf of the public interest by providing quality assurance and oversight of healthcare delivery is the obvious place to start

A question of medical trust

Tough Call - tribune242

IN a recent Tribune article, heart specialist Dr Conville Brown complained about Bahamians spending millions of dollars in the US for medical care that could easily be obtained at home.
He was arguing in favour of local healthcare providers building a large-scale medical tourism industry.

"The same things that all tourists do," he said, "the medical tourist has to do. (And) if the ownership is Bahamian, then the economy really wins because those funds will stay here."
But at the same time, he felt constrained to point out that Bahamians were offsetting the income from foreigners by flying off to get treatment in the US.

"We boost their economy big time. We are reverse medical tourists. Several hospitals in South Florida say their biggest international clientele is from the Bahamas."

Medical tourism is a multi-billion-dollar growth industry that hospitals, doctors and tourism marketers around the world are eager to tap into. By some accounts, more than half a million Americans travel to other countries for medical treatment - partly for cost reasons and partly to take advantage of procedures not yet approved in the US.

There can be no disagreement with Dr Brown's position in terms of the Bahamian economy. And for patients, the benefits are equally obvious and compelling. If Bahamians obtained their medical treatment at home, they would significantly reduce the logistics, expense and stress of being treated abroad.

Why then, do so many of us spend so much money overseas for treatments that are available right here at home? We can answer that question fairly confidently - given a choice, patients will seek medical care from the doctors, hospitals and clinics they trust the most.

This is a personal decision, and it is usually an informed decision. Patients must feel assured that the doctors and facilities they choose are both accountable and able to provide the best quality care they can afford.

So what processes do we have in place to convey such assurances to Bahamians?
Well, there are three statutory bodies that are capable of providing quality assurance and oversight to the Bahamian healthcare sector.

The Public Health Authority has managed government hospitals and clinics since 1999, under the direction of the Minister of Health. As an independent public body, the Authority is responsible for planning, policy, monitoring, evaluation, and management, as well as programme development and oversight.

However, the PHA's legislation has no provision for the investigation of complaints about the healthcare facilities managed by the Authority. Instead, PHA patients are advised to contact the "patient representative" to discuss any concerns they may have.

The Hospital and Health Care Facilities Board was created by Parliament in 1998 to license private hospitals and clinics. This legislation does include a specific mandate to investigate complaints into the "diagnosis, management and treatment" of any patient.

Physicians are the primary providers of healthcare, whether in the public or private sector, and since 1974 they have been licensed and regulated by the Medical Council. According to its website, the council was established "to regulate the medical profession, to upgrade doctors through continuing education requirements, and to safeguard the public through receiving and disposing of complaints".
However, despite the fact that it represents one of the richest professions, the council is made up of a handful of volunteers with virtually no administrative staff. Their website, for example, includes dead and departed physicians on its registry.

So do the records of these three bodies help to inspire confidence and trust in the delivery of healthcare services in the Bahamas?

Well, it would be useful to know how many complaints have been processed by the PHA's "patient representative" and how they were resolved, but unfortunately that information is not publicly available. As for the Hospital Board and the Medical Council, a summary of the case history of one complaint to these bodies over the past decade is instructive.

In 2004, a complaint was made to the Hospital Board concerning the treatment of a 42-year-old man who unexpectedly died in 2002 in a licensed Bahamian healthcare facility.

The board initially refused to deal with the complaint. But after several board members were replaced in 2005 by then Health Minister Dr Marcus Bethel, he ordered that the complaint be investigated. This order by Dr Bethel more than six years ago is the high-point of the case.

The 2005 board met with the complainant's legal and medical representatives in 2006. Afterwards, the Board chairman advised that "since the patient was dead, the file should be closed."

The board did, however, reconsider, and an investigatory panel was to be formed. However, the government changed before this happened.

The new government reinstated the 2004 board chairman, and other members. This chairman reported to a Rotary Club meeting in 2008 that the board didn't want to investigate any complaints, or "be involved in that detailed level of work".

The board said it would seek to have its enabling legislation amended, to remove the investigative requirements, and also to remove the requirement for licensed facilities to report deaths occurring on their premises - a legal mandate never complied with, and never enforced, over the board's entire lifetime.

(It should also be noted that over the past 14 years the board has issued only two "annual" reports to Parliament, something which it is required to do by law every year. And even obtaining copies of those two reports presents enormous challenges).

At a public meeting in 2008, Health Minister Dr Hubert Minnis also promised to investigate the 2004 complaint. But it is now 2012 and the board has taken no action whatsoever. Neither has it ever responded to the complainant.

As for the Medical Council, it received a complaint about the same patient's treatment and care in 2008. The disciplinary committee of the Medical Council met twice on the matter, and three years ago, then council chairman Dr Duane Sands assured Tough Call that: "There is no stonewalling. We take this very, very seriously because we want to ensure that the public will be well-served at the end of the day by this groundbreaking precedent."

He also told me that the medical act (which has been stalled for almost a decade now) was being strengthened to deal with "a finite group of people who are discrediting the profession without any real repercussions - from charging extortionary fees to providing less than appropriate care".
However, in December of last year, the Medical Council's disciplinary committee suspended the 2004 complaint investigation indefinitely.

The council decided it could not proceed because of an ex-parte injunction granted by a Supreme Court judge against the disciplinary committee in 2009, on the application of a doctor concerned in the matter. Since then, the Medical Council has taken no steps either to have the injunction removed or to proceed with the investigation.

The injunction itself is a curious feature in this story. It is perhaps "the one and only" injunction to be granted by one Supreme Court judge against another Supreme Court judge (who sits in his judicial capacity as a member of the statutory disciplinary committee).

Kerzner's branding of the Ocean Club as the "One and Only" has given a high profile to the Bahamas as an attractive destination, but the "one and only" injunction against a Supreme Court judge could have a converse affect on the Bahamas as a destination for medical tourism - quite apart from the collateral damage inflicted on the public oversight function of the Medical Council.

If doctors and politicians want to attract medical tourism to the Bahamas, they need first to inspire confidence in Bahamian medical services among Bahamians themselves. Putting the legislation that already exists to work on behalf of the public interest by providing quality assurance and oversight of healthcare delivery is the obvious place to start.

* What do you think? Send comments to larry@tribunemedia.net or visit bahamapundit.com.

January 25, 2012


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Bahamas is among a group of Caribbean countries that suffers from a nursing deficiency... ...Health Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis expects the nurse shortage to worsen

Health minister expects nurse shortage to worsen

By Krystel Rolle
Guardian Staff Reporter

Nearly two years after a World Bank report named The Bahamas among a group of Caribbean countries that suffers from a nursing deficiency, Health Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis acknowledged that the problem still persists and will likely do so for years to come.

In fact, the problem has existed for so long that hospitals and clinics in The Bahamas have become accustomed to working with a shortage of nurses.

“We are going to be plagued with that problem for a long time. That’s not going to be solved by this government and that’s not going to be solved by the next,” Dr. Minnis told The Nassau Guardian yesterday.

“There’s a shortage not only in The Bahamas. It’s a shortage throughout the world. By the year 2015 the United States will be short by 250,000 nurses.”

He said this will place added stress on Caribbean countries as well as many other countries across the globe.

According to the study, 'The Nurse Labor and Education Markets in the English-speaking CARICOM -  Issues and Options for Reform', the region is facing a rapidly growing shortage of nurses as demand for quality health care increases due to an aging population, and high numbers of nurses emigrate, drawn by higher paying jobs in Canada, the UK and the USA.

Dr. Minnis said the problem is expected to get even worse in the coming years as Bahamian nurses will likely migrate to the United States where nursing jobs are readily available.

Pointing to the severity of The Bahamas' shortage, Dr. Minnis said The Bahamas has 26 nurses to every 10,000 people, while countries like the United States have 100 nurses per 10,000 people.

“We are short; that’s why we continue to address the issue by having students train through The College of The Bahamas. In addition to paying for their education, the government gives them a monthly salary. So we are doing all we can,” Dr. Minnis added.

The World Bank said in the coming years, demand for nurses in the English-speaking Caribbean will increase due to the health needs of the aging population.

To meet the demand for nurses in the English-speaking Caribbean, the report suggests Caribbean countries increase training capacity; manage migration; strengthen data quality and availability and adopt a regional approach.

But Dr. Minnis said there is not much more the government can do.

“Like physicians, with nursing there are a lot of new specialities and therefore as they arise you will continue to have shortages because they will move into the various specialties, which means that you may have deficiencies with the generalists and the specialty nurses.”

Jan 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The shareholding society Hubert Ingraham has sought to encourage is a direct link to the progressive aspirations of those who struggled for majority rule... ...This is an inconvenient truth for the doom and gloom crowd, Ingraham’s opponents ...and those who believe that they have a copyright on majority rule

Hubert Ingraham’s Quiet Revolution

Front Porch

“The Bahamas Achieves a Quiet Revolution as Its First Black Government Takes Hold” was the headline of a New York Times story announcing the achievement of majority rule in the Colony of the Bahama Islands in 1967.

The story began: “A quiet revolution has been achieved in these resort islands as a Negro government has taken office this week to end three centuries of white rule.  The impact has been nil on the tourists who have packed Nassau's hotels, but the changeover seems to have touched the heart of every Negro citizen.”

By quiet, it did not mean that the movement for majority rule was quiescent or a laid back struggle.  The word quiet speaks to the nonviolent nature of the fight for the second emancipation in Bahamian history.

In newspaper editorials and columns, from pulpits and on talk radio, we continue to read or hear the trite and factually wrong gibberish masquerading as commentary that The Bahamas has dramatically regressed in relation to the aspirations of majority rule.

This decline meme has variations, but in all versions the sky is falling or getting ready to fall.  This is accompanied by the requisite wailing and gnashing of the teeth by those who have little sense of irony or historical perspective beyond their nose and the morning newspapers.


Doom and gloom

That these prophets of doom and gloom are even able to spin and spew their poorly reasoned viewpoints from the vantage point of a pulpit, a free broadcast media or writing in a newspaper is testament to the legacy of majority rule.

Moreover, those black Bahamians including black women, able to offer such opinions and who enjoy the privilege of an advanced degree and notable professional status might wish to recall that without majority rule little or none of their success would be possible.

Like all great movements, the legacy of majority rule is mixed.  There are noticeable and continuing successes.  In other areas there is much work to be done.  Majority rule was about political, social and economic empowerment.

As noted last week, many of the progressives in the struggle for majority rule appreciated that attaining political power would be relatively easier than wrestling economic power from entrenched interests.

Moreover, surprisingly, the early ambitions of some of these progressives to dismantle the economic monopolies of the Bay Street Boys were thwarted by their more reactionary colleagues in the fight for a majority government.

Yet on the eve of the 45th anniversary of majority rule, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced that his government was nearing the final stages of the dismantling of the near monopolistic control of the port business by a few families.  These families included some of those Bay Street Boys from whom political power had to be wrestled.

Ingraham has added his own chapter to the Quiet Revolution.  He has dismantled many decades of entrenched economic domination in port ownership in New Providence.  He is also transferring some of that wealth and the opportunity for wealth-creation to the Bahamian people.

For some time, Ingraham has been building a shareholding society as a means of broadening and deepening ownership in the economy by Bahamians and especially so by a broader cross section of Bahamians.

During his first term in office the government made 49 percent of the shares of the Bank of The Bahamas available to the Bahamian public.  When the funding for the second Paradise Island Bridge was done it was through the issuance of Treasury Bonds which were made available to the general public.


Good investment

The introduction of cable television provided another opportunity for Bahamians to buy shares that have proven to be a good investment.  Today, Cable Bahamas is fully Bahamian-owned.

When the Bahamians who owned the majority stake in Commonwealth Brewery sought the approval of the Ingraham administration to sell their controlling interests to a foreign company, the approval was conditional.  It was conditional on Heineken, the new owners, making 25 percent of the shares in the company available to the Bahamians.

With the new port on Arawak Cay, Bahamians will have the opportunity to purchase shares in a potentially lucrative venture.  Some of the same white merchant elite who held political power prior to majority rule also controlled many of the country’s lucrative enterprise including the port.  These included families with surnames like Kelly, Symonette and Bethel.

The surnames of those who can now own shares in the Arawak Port Development (APD) will run the gamut from A to Z in the telephone directory.  Members of the Mailboat Association will also own shares in the port development.

Civil servants will be afforded the opportunity to buy shares in APD through salary deductions.  Those who mindlessly claim that little progress continues to be made in the advancement of the aspirations of majority rule may wish to suspend their commentary long enough to purchase some shares.

Perhaps they can also suspend their insipid rhetoric long enough to talk to the thousands of ordinary Bahamians who now own shares in various Bahamian enterprises including cable and banking, and soon at BTC.

The shareholding society Hubert Ingraham has sought to encourage is a direct link to the progressive aspirations of those who struggled for majority rule.  This is an inconvenient truth for the doom and gloom crowd, Ingraham’s opponents, and those who believe that they have a copyright on majority rule.



Jan 24, 2012


Monday, January 23, 2012

...at the end of the day, workers will be laid off if the Atlantis resort performs poorly... just like in 2008 with the onset of the global financial crisis

Politics and the Atlantis deal

Tribune News Editor

As is to be expected at this advanced stage in the election cycle, every issue with potential political mileage is going to be spun for all it's worth.

Just so with the collapse of the Atlantis ownership transfer deal. Mr Christie says Mr Ingraham should have been more forthcoming about the details, Mr Ingraham says Mr Christie's poor decisions in office created the conditions that led to the deal in the first place, and Branville McCartney says both men knew the proposal was bad for Bahamians, but kept this information from the public.

And, in another clear indicator of the times, even while politicking their hearts out Messrs Christie and McCartney have both sought to give the impression they are the only straight talker; the one not using the failed deal as a political stick to beat the others with.

The PLP leader has provided us with perhaps the most amusing quote, a classic example of political doublespeak.

Berating the Prime Minister for "playing politics" as the deal collapsed, Mr Christie said: "Atlantis is the nation's single largest private employer and thousands of Bahamian jobs are at stake."

Then: "We're told he found out on Friday that the Brookfield deal was going under. Did he tell the people of the Bahamas? Did he call union leaders or meet with workers? Did he start reviewing options for moving forward? No."

Let's see if we can follow his logic. The issue is too sensitive and too important for the Prime Minister to continue with politics-as-usual. To prove this, Mr Christie tries to scare the hell out of everyone ("thousands of Bahamian jobs are at stake"), then uses his alarmist interpretation to criticise the behaviour of his political opponent.

A political jab, disguised as a warning about making political jabs. Did Mr Christie think no one would see through his crafty trick?

His version is alarmist and inflammatory, because anyone with the merest hint of business sense - and I'm sure that includes Mr Christie - knows two facts to be true.

The first is that there is nothing the government can do at this stage about the underlying factors: Kerzner's inability to pay its creditors and the decision of those creditors to call in their loans.

The DNA may well be right, the deal would not have been ideal for the Bahamas; nevertheless, it was the only one on the table. What should the government have done, allow the largest private sector employer in the country to go bankrupt? Stage a $2.3 billion bail-out?


The second, more important fact, is that contrary to Mr Christie's assertions, the failure of the Brookfield deal has in no way rewritten the future for Atlantis workers.

That's not to say everything will necessarily be fine in the long-run, only that the probability it will has not been improved or worsened by the collapse of the deal.

This is especially the case, as while the transaction was scuppered by two junior creditors, the major players were all onboard, meaning a revised proposal with relatively minor changes could see the deal resurrected soon.

So, at the end of the day, workers will be laid off if the resort performs poorly - just like in 2008 with the onset of the global financial crisis.

If Atlantis does well, people will keep their jobs. Simple as that.

Now, no one is naive enough to believe the going will be easy; the creditors will expect hefty profit margins. After all, they're in it to get their money back.

But an essential ingredient in this formula is the product, which attracts the guests in the first place, and the new owners will know an understaffed resort is the fastest route to falling standards.

So, is it merely a case of much ado about nothing? Not quite.

What all the political gauze of the last week or so has managed to do, is obscure the real lesson of this "crisis" - the extent to which the notion has become imbedded in our collective psyche that as goes Atlantis, so goes the Bahamas.

The anxiety unleashed by this turn of events exposed how inextricably intertwined our sense of national well-being has become with the fate of a single entity.

Even those violently opposed to the pink monstrosity across the bridge have been lulled over the years into the assumption of its permanence, its inevitability.

Leaving aside arguments about whether the nature of our economy would have allowed for any realistic alternative, can it be healthy for a society to pin all its hopes on a single business, the ultimate fate of which is decided beyond our shores?

Of course, this leads us into a consideration of what the Bahamas would be today if Sol Kerzner had never come here in the first place.

When 800 workers were laid off from Atlantis in 2008, there was widespread concern that it would spark a crime wave. What would the other 8,000 employees be doing right now if history had taken a different course?

What other cracks in our society have been papered over by the existence of a mega-resort which just as easily, might never have been?

* What do you think?

Email: pnunez@tribunemedia.net

January 23, 2012


Sunday, January 22, 2012

As we all sit and evaluate the political parties and independent candidates who will offer for public office in the run-up to the 2012 general election... we should make every effort to determine if there is someone on the ballot good enough to vote for...

Does it matter if you vote?

thenassauguardian editorial

Interesting debates always emerge when the question is posed as to whether or not citizens living in democracies should feel obligated to vote.

Most democracies were fought for.  People who campaigned for freedom, self-governance and civil rights were jailed; some were murdered; some were beaten and many others were victimized.  Some of these fights were actual wars.

In this context, we all should take the vote seriously.  It is not a right, but a gift fought for by those who came before us.

As we all sit and evaluate the political parties and independent candidates who will offer for public office in the run-up to the next general election, we should make every effort to determine if there is someone on the ballot good enough to vote for.

Those who do not think there is anyone good enough to vote for should consider entering the race or the political process.

But if the ballot is filled with poor candidates, what should a voter do?  Should voters feel compelled to vote?

No, they should not.  Voting is an important part of the democratic process.  However, voting should not be confused with democracy.  Democracy is about self-governance.  As citizens, we have a responsibility to do this everyday – not just every five years.

By working at a charity, providing assistance to the homeless, democracy is at work;  by volunteering as a mentor at a school, democracy is at work; by raising an educated, hardworking law-abiding citizen, democracy is at work.

So for those who think there is no reasonable offering to vote for at the next general election, you should rest assured that there are many other ways to participate in the advancement and governance of The Bahamas.

A group of residents in a community can easily come together, approach their public school, and start an after-school literacy program for the children falling behind, for example.

Simple initiatives such as these, if done by many individuals or by many groups, can do much to change the lives of the disadvantaged and the soon-to-be lost.

Elections are important; voting is important.  But if you think the mainstream political parties are pathetic and the independents are incompetent, do not distress.  You can exercise your democratic power everyday by doing something to help build the community.

Jan 21, 2012

thenassauguardian editorial

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kerzner's Atlantis might have problems... but the sky is not falling


tribune242 editorial

THE SOUND bites being fired off by opposition politicians over the collapse of the Kerzner agreement with its Brookfield creditor gives the impression that they are intent -- in order to deal a mortal political blow to Prime Minister Ingraham-- on striking fear in Kerzner's staff just at a time when the resort is experiencing a favourable turn-around in business.

Although the Kerzner attempt at an ownership transfer failed last week, the current dispute is between creditors, aggrieved that a junior in their midst appears to have outsmarted the remaining six, all senior in the creditor lineup. They feared that Brookfield, in its proposed $175 million debt-for-equity swap, would be the sole beneficiary to any future success of the resort, leaving them empty handed. They appealed to a court in Delaware, which stopped the ownership transfer pending a court hearing. Brookfield, instead of wasting precious time in court, cancelled the Kerzner agreement, in the meantime continuing to try to broker a deal with its fellow lenders.

The Atlantis resort and the One & Only Ocean Club remain in Kerzner hands and under Kerzner management. Kerzner International president, George Markantonis, has repeatedly assured his staff and the public that the Kerzner-Brookfield transaction would in no way affect their jobs. Prime Minister Ingraham has also been given assurances that as far as the present transaction is concerned, Bahamians -- almost 8,000 of them -- have no reason to fear.

What they do not realise is that the debt crisis in Greece -- now tottering on the brink of default -- could create such an economic tsunami that international commerce, including tourism, could grind to a sudden halt. And as everything has a logical conclusion, the results would be -- no tourists, no jobs, no hotels. In these circumstances, employment at Atlantis would suffer a faster after-shock, forcing downsizing more than the present squabbles among Kerzner lenders.

And so, as the Kerzner president has said, not only would the lenders' foreclosing or putting the company into bankruptcy be "very far fetched", but so would the loss of local jobs. At present, said Mr Markantonis, "it's really looking like a nice January... and a strong winter." He hinted that additional staff might even be taken on.

In fact, Atlantis is too big to fail. It would cost more to go into bankruptcy than to keep the hotel open and continue to fight for business with a dedicated -- not a politically spooked staff -- as important members of the team.

Based on a $3 billion valuation of the property stamp tax alone would be $360 million. (See Tribune Business Editor Neil Hartnell's article in today's Business section).

Opposition Leader Perry Christie has berated Prime Minister Ingraham for not telling the Bahamian people on Friday that the Brookfield deal had failed. How could anyone speak on this matter with any authority when no one -- not even the Kerzner team - knew what was going on at that time. Mr Ingraham could have opened his mouth and babbled a lot of nonsensical platitudes that might have sounded good, but would have meant nothing because he -- like everyone else -- knew nothing. A wise man does not open his mouth unless he is sure of what he is going to say. This was a fight among lenders as they saw a lucrative deal about to slip through their fingers.

Mr Christie accused Mr Ingraham of not fighting for Bahamian jobs. How could Mr Ingraham enter the debate until he received an application from Brookfield for the government's approval of the transaction? It was at that point that he could have had his say and presented Bahamian demands, but before Mr Ingraham could properly read the application, Brookfield withdrew it. What did Mr Christie want Mr Ingraham to do -- fly to wherever the creditors were meeting, kick the door in and demand an audience? The idea, although ridiculous, is good political fodder for the ignorant. Mr Christie knows he is just making political noise. If he sincerely wanted to save Bahamian jobs he would stop ringing alarm bells.

And if Atlantis employees really want to save their jobs they will close their ears to "the sky is falling" myths and avoid the disaster into which Chicken Little led his friends by his false alarm.

According to the nursery rhyme, a very foolish Chicken Little was in the woods one day when an acorn fell on his tail. The silly little chick decided that the sky was falling, and so he ran to alert all his farmyard friends. When he told Henny Penny, she wanted to know how he knew that the sky was falling in. "I saw it with my eyes," said Chicken Little. "I heard it with my ears. Some of it fell on my tail." "We will run," said Henny Penny, "and tell the king." They lined up three more friends, frightening them into action with the same end-of-the-world story. Eventually, they came to the den of Foxy Loxy, who listened to the sky is falling in tale, and told them: "We will run," he said. "We will run into my den, and I will tell the king."

They ran into Foxy Loxy's den, But they did not come out again!

And that is just what will happen to Atlantis staff if they pay serious attention to all of these Chicken Littles, Henny Pennys, Turkey Lurkeys, Ducky Luckys and Goosey Looseys running around in today's political arena ringing false alarm bells.

Atlantis might have problems, but so far the sky has not fallen in.

January 20, 2012

tribune242 editorial

Friday, January 20, 2012

Is there political ideology or philosophy in Bahamian politics? ...Is Hubert Ingraham a conservative? ...Is Perry Christie a liberal? ...Is Branville McCartney a centrist? ...Who knows? ...Fellow Bahamians - It is important to know the political philosophy of parties and their leaders

Is there political ideology or philosophy in Bahamian politics?

thenassauguardian editorial

We now know almost all the election candidates of the three parties with representation in the House of Assembly.  The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Free National Movement (FNM) have selected all the men and women who will run under their respective banners.  The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has a few more to chose.

What is interesting is that each of the parties have a few candidates who have run for, or been supporters of, other parties.  There are some interesting examples.

For the PLP, Dr. Andre Rollins was a candidate in 2010 at the Elizabeth by-election for the National Development Party, and Dr. Bernard Nottage (the current Bain and Grants Town MP) led the Coalition for Democratic Reform against the PLP in the 2002 general election.

For the FNM, Cassius Stuart was the leader of the Bahamas Democratic Movement.  His colleagues on the FNM ticket Kenyatta Gibson, Edison Key and Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham are all former PLP MPs.

Dr. Madlene Sawyer, the DNA candidate for Southern Shores, was a former head of the PLP women’s branch.  Her DNA colleague Wallace Rolle ran for the PLP in the 2007 general election.  The DNA candidate for Bains Town and Grants Town, Rodney Moncur, was the leader of the obscure Worker’s Party before joining the DNA.  And Branville McCartney, the party’s leader, was a former FNM MP and Cabinet minister.

These are just a few prominent examples of the flow of people in Bahamian politics.  There are other candidates in the major parties who have been strong supporters of organizations opposed to the groups they are currently with.

What does it all mean?  Well, some would say nothing, as politicians in countries around the world change party affiliation all the time.  But, it could also be argued that the flow of people from party to party, running under any banner, exists here because there is little to no philosophical difference between the organizations.

In fact, it would be hard to use any traditional economic or political philosophy to describe any of the Bahamian political parties.  Could you describe the PLP, DNA or FNM as left or right wing, conservative or liberal?  No, you could not.

For example, in the 2012 Republican presidential race in the United States candidate Ron Paul is a libertarian.  Paul has very different view of the world from 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, who is a social democrat.  Libertarians are suspicious of the state and argue for small government and low rates of taxation.  Social democrats think the state and taxation should be used to advance social justice.

It is important to know the political philosophy of parties and their leaders.  When parties and leaders have strong beliefs, they bring forward policies that change the lives of people in distinct ways.  A libertarian would essentially eliminate welfare.  They do not think the wealth of individuals should be taken away by the state to be given to others with less wealth.

Social democrats always want more taxation to advance some Utopian social program to ‘help’ people.  The business climate changes significantly when one of these politicians is elected, as opposed to the other.

Is Hubert Ingraham a conservative?  Is Perry Christie a liberal?  Is Branville McCartney a centrist?  Who knows?  Lately, our elections have been run on management style.  Essentially, this is the essence of the debate: “I am a better man than you.  Vote for me.”

A cynic could argue that it is difficult to pin down the political philosophy of our parties and politicians because they have none.  Instead, they simply seek power to dispense the authority and wealth of the state.  The voters then choose the person they think most able, and that’s that.  The better manager manages things in a better ad hoc manner not under any recognizable system of ideals.

If this type of politics is good enough for the people, it will continue.  For something else to evolve the people would have to demand more of the process and the people involved.

Jan 20, 2012

thenassauguardian editorial

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bishop Neil Ellis is right... there are more than three demons destroying The Bahamas... but the main ones are the ones he decided to drag across the coals Monday night -- sexual immorality, financial instability and witchcraft


tribune242 editorial

IN THIS column yesterday, we jested about Bishop Neil Ellis' theatrical announcement of how, as God's chosen messenger, he was sent to warn Bahamians that the world's three greatest vices, in the form of demons, had landed on our shores and were holding this country "hostage."

Jumping Jehosephat! News enough to make the faint-hearted jump out of bed and take to the hills. But that is not where the bishop wanted Bahamians to take themselves. The bishop was dead serious. He wanted them shivering in fright, not in the hills, but in Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church in Pinewood Gardens. The demons were so devilishly evil that he daren't mention their names outside the sanctified halls of Mount Tabor. And only those who attended the church and filled the parking lot would get God's message first hand from his special messenger - Bishop Neil Ellis himself.

We must admit that the Bishop's promotion was superb. He built the suspense up to a crescendo, until his church and parking lot were filled. Up went the song. The show was on. At the end of the service, it is certain that the church's coffers were also generously filled.

But seriously now, Bishop Ellis is right, there are more than three demons destroying this country, but the main ones are the ones he decided to drag across the coals Monday night -- sexual immorality, financial instability and witchcraft.

Sexual immorality -- nothing new, been with us for a long time, as a matter of fact Adam and Eve were the ones who stole the apple from the garden and passed their sin down through the generations. Here in the Bahamas, it goes under several names, the most popular being "sweethearting".

We recall overhearing an interview being conducted at The Tribune when we were quite young. The person being interviewed was telling how a baby, in or out of wedlock -- particularly out of wedlock -- was a West Indian thing. That child was treated as a woman's insurance for her old age. At least she had someone to look after her when she was past it. This struck our puritanical nature so strange at the time that it is the only part of that interview that we remember.

About 87 years ago, our mother landed in the Bahamas for the first time from the hills of Pennsylvania. Although a young teacher, it was the first time that she had seen an ocean, islands, beaches, coconut trees, and many other things. The first landing was at Mathew Town, Inagua, where an election was in full swing and her husband was one of the candidates. As a good wife, she went off on her own to talk with the people. When she and Sir Etienne Dupuch met again later in the day, she was troubled by a recurrent answer that she got whenever she asked a man how many children he had.

"Etienne," she said, "tell me what is this 'inside' and 'outside' thing. Every man that I asked how many children he had would say, x number inside, and y number outside, and there was always more on the y side than the x side. What did they mean?" Poor, innocent Mum, she never lived that one down. But by the time she arrived from Inagua to Nassau on the mail boat she had the answer-- she had learned about Inagua's many inside and outside children.

A few years ago, a young doctor told us that the maternity ward of the Princess Margaret Hospital was like a factory churning out babies into the bleakest of environments -- the nation's future social problems. It was a maternity ward where babies were having babies, where young girls were on their third or fourth child, each with a different father. It was shocking to identify some of these men, some of them already married, who were producing these "outside" families.

When we were a child, everyone was poor. It was no sin to be poor, and no one seemed to envy his neighbour -- certainly not to the extent that we see today's avarice satisfied at any price. At least growing up, money did not seem all that important. Wasn't Sir Etienne, our father, often turning down advertising because it offended some principle, at the same time, we heard him worry out loud about where he was going to find the few pence needed in those days to pay our small staff. We even watched when his largest advertiser arrived at his editorial door one day to cancel his advertising because he disapproved of a series of editorials Sir Etienne was writing about liquor stores being built, not only near churches, but in our poorest communities to undermine "our good people".

Before the advertiser could finish his sentence, Sir Etienne had cancelled his advertising and ordered him from his premises. Of course, he had to meet payroll at the end of the week. We do not know how he did it, but somehow he survived. So we grew up believing that money was not all that important. However, what was important was to use our lives to honestly serve the Bahamian people through this newspaper. We were not here to fill our own pockets, and so when business has to be turned down even today, it is turned down.

But in the sixties, attitudes changed. The drug era was around the corner and success was measured by material wealth. Bahamians were told that there was nothing stopping them becoming millionaires, and with the temptation of drug money coming in, nothing did. No matter how uncouth or unlearned a man was he was soon in if he had the trappings of wealth -- however earned. The younger generation looked up to their big brothers, daddys and uncles and measured success by their fast cars, the gold chains jangling from their necks and gaudy rings on their fingers. Youngsters were writing school essays describing how their ambition in life was to be a drug smuggler like their uncle or cousin, or some other member of the family or friend. That's what heroes were made of in those days.

This is when one of Bishop Ellis' demons really took hold and spawned the crime that we see on the streets today. We remember in those days - the seventies and eighties -- former Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Thompson, now retired, predicting that if something were not done at that time to curb the trend we would be battling the very crime that is today destroying our way of life.

In this, Bishop Ellis is right. This is one demon that has to be overcome by a community that has gone astray, never forgetting that many among them set the pace for today's problems.

January 19, 2012

- Bishop Neil Ellis of Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church warned that there are three demons that are holding The Bahamas hostage... and can only be exorcised with prayer... ... The demons are sexual immorality, financial instability and witchcraft -

- Bishop Neil Ellis and his 'message' from God -

tribune242 editorial

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wallace Rolle, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) party ...and the change of more of the same

By Dennis Dames:

I have today listened to Mr. Wallace Rolle, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) candidate for South Beach on Issues of the day. The gentleman appears to be a Utopian of the first order. He gives the impression that he and his party have all the solutions to our ills; like with a DNA victory - all lights will be turned on, unemployment will be eradicated, no one would lose their house, and the hurting that we the people are experiencing just now will be no more.

Mr. Rolle stopped short of promising that the tears from every Bahamian eye will be eliminated under a Democratic National Alliance administration.

He says that we need to diversify our economy. What does this mean? Agriculture and fisheries are already on the move, the Bahamian craft industry has received a major boost with the new straw market policy, and opportunities galore exist for young and the not so young entrepreneurs.

We need to legitimize the numbers business to enhance the nation’s revenue base. We need to look at the LNG question with a view of making a final decision; it looks like a new and potent income stream that could propel our country’s ambition to bring every brother and sister in the fold of economic prosperity. Our problem today is that we are not collecting enough income to pay our national bills; so our hands are tied when it comes to new initiatives right now.

Mr. Rolle spoke of the unemployment concerns of his young constituents, but his status quo and politically correct position is that they will fill every vacancy with a Bahamian who is qualified to perform the job. How will that position solve our unemployment challenges?

If a Democratic National Alliance government borrows funds from a foreign bank for capital works, and the bank insists that XYZ Company from Brazil has to be the general contractor with its hundreds of employees; what will they do? If every international bank relates the similar requirements, where would that leave the country? We would be drowning in our own inanity.

If an international business comes to The Bahamas with tens of millions of dollars in investments and they want to bring in their foreign CEO and comptroller, what will a DNA government do if they feel that Bahamians could fill those positions? Here is where a Bahamian first policy becomes dangerous and counter-productive to national economic development.

We need to personally and collectively take control of our destiny. If we are profoundly divided as a people, then there is nothing a new politician or representative could do for us. Lingering and deep-rooted disunity are holding back our progress as a people, and we must find our respective love button and come together for the common good.

A monumental policy was instituted in our straw market recently, where all goods must be Bahamian made. This decision alone could indirectly employ thousands of our people as the craft market is a forty million dollars a year plus industry. Every young talented Bahamian could take advantage of the opportunity by creating one great Bahamian souvenir item to sell to straw vendors; but opposition politicians would have none of it. As far as they are concerned, the governing Free National Movement (FNM) is simply good for nothing; and they insist on being their constituents employment agents. Yes, even the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) wants to control the people of whom they seek to represent.

It’s called the change of more of the same.

caribbean Blog International

Young politicians should be careful and not get too caught up in the excitement of the moments to come in the upcoming general election... selling dreams they cannot deliver

Candidates should not make unrealistic promises

thenassauguardian editorial

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) have selected their candidates to run in the upcoming general election.  The fledgling Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is almost done with its candidate selection process.  Several independent candidates have also entered the various constituency races, such as Whitney Bastian in Mangrove Cay and South Andros and Craig Butler in Bamboo Town – and more are likely to emerge soon.

Some of these men and women who are running have been campaigning for years to win a constituency seat.  Some will begin that effort in the next few weeks.  The people will decide who will be successful and who will be forgotten.

To win, some go all out and make every promise possible.  The candidate pledges to fix every road in the area; to make sure every park is maintained; to find jobs for hundreds of people; to visit regularly after being elected; to make sure the community schools are without a need.

Campaigning is hard; winning is harder.  To do so you have to convince thousands of people you and your party are best equipped to run the country.  Telling people you will do everything for them may get you more votes.  But candidates must remember that if they win, those same people will be expecting them to deliver.

The life of that candidate could become miserable if he or she is unable to fulfill the promises made on the campaign trail.  If the candidate is elected for a governing party but has little power in the caucus, that member would have little capacity to deliver on anything for his or her area.  If elected for the opposition party, good luck getting the government to rush to your assistance in an opposition constituency.  And if the governing party does something in that area, it will tell the people it did it and not the opposition MP.

Reasonable and moderate pledges would be better for candidates and constituents.  Set out those issues of importance to the community and suggest cost-effective solutions.  Also, let the electorate know that if things don’t go well and the party does not win government, you would fight the good fight in public and in private for resources for the constituency.

Being a good public servant is also about telling people what is not possible or easily achieved.  Governments have limited resources.  They cannot tackle everything at once and some priorities deemed less critical might have to be ignored until a time comes when the capacity exists to address them.

When politicians keep promising and not delivering, they lose their credibility.  Voters eventually stop listening to the words of such people.

There are many people who are hurting in The Bahamas now due to the economic conditions that have persisted since the financial crisis of 2008.  The national jobless rate was last measured at 13-plus percent.  It may seem clever to bamboozle desperate people at election time for power.  Power attained in this manner is fleeting and no politician will build a long and successful career based on not being reliable.

Young politicians should be careful and not get too caught up in the excitement of the moments to come in the upcoming elections, selling dreams they cannot deliver.

Jan 18, 2012

thenassauguardian editorial

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

...the enduring legacy of majority rule in The Bahamas

Majority Rule at 45

Front Porch

By Simon

The success of great political events and movements inspire all manner of grandstanding by secondary figures who played tangential or minor roles in such events.  As often, those who played more critical roles, and are disinclined to preen and prance, are not given their fuller due.

Thankfully, in the light of greater historical accuracy, the pretensions of the airbags desperately attempting to inflate themselves into great leaders are often deflated.  And, the extraordinary contributions of the great men and women of history are recorded for accuracy and posterity.

Three events of the past few weeks highlighted aspects of the struggle for and legacy of majority rule.  They include the 45th anniversary of January 10, 1967, the passing of Sir Clifford Darling, and the opportunity for ordinary Bahamians to own shares in the new Arawak Port Development (APD).

At the inauguration of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this past October, U.S. President Barack Obama chastised the negativity and cynicism of those who sought to downplay the accomplishments of the civil rights movement for racial equality.

As America’s first black president, the credibility of his claim was incontestable.  Obama further noted that there was still considerable work to be done to achieve Dr. King’s dream.

The same may be said of the achievements of majority rule in The Bahamas: We have accomplished much, yet there is significant work to be done.  To boost his political stock, a rapidly diminishing public figure continues to dismiss the enduring legacy of majority rule.



Sir Clifford’s funeral was the opportunity for a religious figure to fall into the same either/or mindset with a diatribe that ignored many of the accomplishments of majority rule.  Thankfully, that harangue was vitiated by the oratory of Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes in his tribute at Sir Clifford’s state funeral.

Sir Arthur and Sir Clifford played significant roles in the advancement of majority rule and in national development.  Humble men, not given to grandstanding, both assumed the high office of governor general.  And, both shared a confidence in the country’s future captured in a moving recollection of Sir Arthur’s: “I assured him [Sir Clifford] that in my recent travels around our Bahamas I had seen future generations of Bahamians full of promise, young Bahamians who will become social, commercial, cultural and political leaders, Bahamians who will value and build upon the legacy that he and others had bequeathed.  The man from Chester’s, Acklins, smiled.”

This January 10, the country again celebrated the expansion and deepening of democracy in The Bahamas.  Unfortunately, the Progressive Liberal Party continues to treat the event as its singular achievement, and the Free National Movement studiously avoids joining in the annual celebrations.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. always appreciated that the civil rights movement was about political empowerment and economic opportunity.  In 1963, he led a small march in an all-white enclave in Chicago to protest inequality in housing and other areas of economic life.  The protestors were attacked and Dr. King struck in the head.

Reflecting on the march, he observed that gaining political rights might be the easier part.  He appreciated that gaining economic power from entrenched interests would be a more difficult and longer process.

Many of the progressives in the struggle for majority rule appreciated the same reality.  Surprisingly, the early ambitions of some of these progressives to dismantle the economic monopolies of the Bay Street Boys were thwarted by their more reactionary colleagues in the fight for a majority government.

Change often takes time and comes about in surprising ways.  Hubert Ingraham’s rise from poverty to become prime minister is a testament to his own talents and ambition.   Still, his rise would not have been possible without the opportunities afforded him because of the achievement of majority rule.



The prime minister is a man of complexity and paradox.  It has made him a pragmatist.  He is fiscally conservative and socially liberal.  He utilizes capitalist-based measures to advance an extraordinarily progressive economic agenda.

Ingraham grew up in an Abaco where white privilege and supremacy were the order of the day.  He took over the leadership of the FNM, the supposedly more economically conservative major party, which counted some of the former members of the defunct United Bahamian Party among its members.

On the eve of this year’s majority rule anniversary, amidst the charged and often self-serving rhetoric that accompanies the 10th day of January, Ingraham held a press conference.

On January 9, 2012, he announced that his government was nearing the final stages of the dismantling of the near monopolistic control of the port business by a few families.  These families included some of those Bay Street Boys from whom political power had to be wrested.

Not only is Ingraham dismantling many decades of entrenched economic domination in port ownership in New Providence.  He is also transferring some of that wealth and the opportunity for wealth-creation to the Bahamian people.  There are chapters still to be written in the Quiet Revolution.

Jan 17, 2012


Monday, January 16, 2012

If workers are serious about their employment, they will think twice before being led astray by union leaders ...some of whom seem to have politics on their minds rather than the interest of the men and women whose best interests they claim to represent


tribune242 editorial

LOOKING over The Tribune's Labour files a few days ago we came across an interesting statement by hotel managerial union leader Obie Ferguson, who accused Freeport's Our Lucaya Beach resort of "union busting" by planning to lay off 50 managerial staff.

"Now the economy is showing signs of recovery," he told The Tribune, "I thought that now would be the time to do what should be done. Workers' rights are as important as profits. We will take the necessary poll and then do what we have to do."

Mr Ferguson made this statement in January last year at a time when in the estimation of every business person on the island - especially in Freeport -- the economy was looking even bleaker. And so we do not know how Mr Ferguson measures economic recovery. Maybe he had a glimpse of the hotel's financial statements and from that concluded that the hotel could support what he claimed "had to be done" and still keep its doors open.

At the time, Mr Ferguson was pressing Minister Dion Foulkes for permission for his union, which he said represented more than 100 of the resort's staff, to take a strike vote that would pave the way for disruptive action at the property.

Meanwhile, Nicole Martin, whose union represented the same hotel's line staff, was worried about increases she said were owed to the line staff under their industrial agreement. Earlier, the resort had announced that its Christmas season was not as good as hoped. It had told the union that since 2009 it was not in a financial position to meet those demands.

Earlier, it was acknowledged that the resort's owners, Hutchinson-Whampoa, had been subsidising the hotel's payroll. Prime Minister Ingraham had even praised the company for its supportive attitude towards the hotel and its staff during difficult financial times.

But Mr Ferguson must have had a vision. He saw things differently and thought it was time for some union muscle flexing.

When we read his statement, we could not help but think of the six blind men of Indostan who went to see an elephant. Although blind, and having to rely on touch alone, each had to "satisfy his mind" as to what an elephant looked like.

The first fell against the broad sturdy side of the elephant and decided it "is very like a wall." The second felt the tusk and decided it was like a "spear." And so on down the line -- the squirming trunk felt like a snake; the knee felt like a tree; the ear felt like a fan and the sixth was convinced that the swinging tail was "very like a rope".

And so the dispute began, each convinced as to what an elephant looked like and "though each was partly in the right... all were in the wrong!"

As none of them had seen the whole elephant, despite their arguing none of them knew what an elephant really looked like.

And so with these unionists, who although they never see the whole picture and do not know what obligations have to be met before salary increases can be considered, are always convinced that owners can and should meet their demands.

At present, Kerzner International is fighting to meet its financial obligations. It has a good management team that will do everything in its power to maintain staff levels and also meet its debts. Those debt obligations are extremely high. If they are not met, unless some agreement can be arrived at, the Kerzner team could lose its four-year management contract. And so, staff will have to be thankful for their jobs, and turn deaf ears to any demands that their union might tempt them to take during this difficult period. Even if they see every rooms filled to capacity every day of the year, unions nor staff can assume -- like the six blind men of Indostan -- that the hotel is making a handsome profit, and that there is any room for staff to make more.

We do not understand some of these union leaders. They complain that Freeport has no business and yet when organisations are trying to attract business, the union decides to demonstrate. For example, what possessed Freeport hotel workers to demonstrate at Grand Lucaya resort on the very day Vision Airlines and the Ministry of Tourism were hosting 80 travel agents and other tourism promoters from the United States? The visitors were invited there for a two-day familiarization trip in the hopes that they would recommend more visitors to fill the hotel. Imagine the very people who would benefit from a hotel full of guests, would decide instead to drive potential business away by demonstrations. Who can have sympathy for such short-sighted people?

And to add insult to injury their union leader had the nerve to pull another demonstration to complain that the 37 workers who scuttled an attempt to get more business for the hotel were fired.
Just where are these people coming from? From an outsider looking in, it seems that some unionists have a different agenda. Are they deliberately leading their members astray?

Who is going to sympathise with any worker who is going to undermine the efforts of people who are trying to bring more business to a resort to secure their jobs?

If workers are serious about their employment, they will think twice before being led astray by union leaders some of whom seem to have politics on their minds rather than the interest of the men and women whose best interests they claim to represent.

January 16, 2012

tribune242 editorial

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Bahamas needs to ban smoking inside public places to preserve the health of those who do not smoke

Non-smokers should be protected

thenassauguardian editorial

Smoking kills. The Bahamas needs to ban smoking inside public places to preserve the health of those who do not smoke.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult non-smokers in the US. The CDC also notes that secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths annually among adult non-smokers in the US.

We live in a free society. Adults who choose to smoke, knowing the dangers of the practice, are free to face the consequences of their actions. Banning smoking inside enclosed restaurants, casinos, enclosed nightclubs and other public places will help save the lives of the employees who work there and those who regularly visit.

Many jurisdictions in developed countries have moved to ban smoking inside public places. On Wednesday the New York City Council went further and voted to ban smoking in 1,700 city parks and along 14 miles of city beaches.

Here in The Bahamas some are afraid of a smoking ban – especially those in the tourism sector. They argue that such a restriction would make The Bahamas less competitive, as people like to smoke in casinos and in restaurants.

Banning smoking in these places may actually bring in more customers – such as those who do not want to socialize in smoky places.

But more importantly the ban would save lives. It would especially save the lives of workers. Casino workers and restaurant employees are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke.

A ban on smoking in public places would also help reduce health care costs. Fewer people

would need to be treated for the lung maladies that result from breathing in the smoke exhaled by others.

Many of our visitors come from developed countries where indoor smoking bans already exist. The practice of going outside to smoke is becoming more and more the norm. The Bahamas would only be conforming to the emerging international standard.

Hotels could have designated smoking areas near exits for those who want to smoke. Restaurants could expand, if the space exists, to outdoor seating for smokers. The Bahamas is warm throughout the year. Smokers should have no problem smoking outside.

Several years ago, the Ministry of Health spoke publicly about its consultations with stakeholders regarding an indoor smoking ban. There has been little public discussion of the issue for a while. The government should make the move. Non-smokers should be protected.

Those addicted to smoking should seek medical help. New treatments continue to become available for smokers. Nicotine addiction is one of the hardest addictions to break.

Jan 14, 2012

thenassauguardian editorial

Saturday, January 14, 2012

...monthly National Insurance Board (NIB) contribution rates increase proposed: ...from 9.8 per cent to 10.8 per cent... ...It is unclear whether this will be split 50/50 between employer and employee


Tribune Business Editor
Tribune Business Reporter

A RECOMMENDATION to increase the National Insurance Board (NIB) contribution rate by one percentage point to 10.8 per cent has been lodged with the Government, its director yesterday saying it was "lobbying" private health insurers for reduced premiums.

Algernon Cargill brought a stunned silence, and some gasps of disapproval, to the Bahamas Business Outlook conference yesterday when he confirmed the recommended contribution increase, arguing that it was necessary to fund an expanded National Prescription Drug Plan.

In truth the contribution increase had been flagged some time ago, so it should not come as a total shock to Bahamian employers and employees. The former, though, will again be looking at their financial position with concern, and wondering just how much of a chunk it will take out of cash flow and profits.

Meanwhile, Mr Cargill's assertion that NIB was pushing private health insurance underwriters, such as Colina, Atlantic Medical, Generali and BahamaHealth (Family Guardian), to reduce premiums and provide extra benefits, could stoke concerns in some quarters over a revival/continued move to a National Health Insurance Plan.

This is especially so given that Mr Cargill suggested NIB wanted to be the "first payer of private carriers".

Under the initial envisaged expansion of NIB's drug plan, Mr Cargill said it would cover illnesses/diseases such as epilepsy, sickle cell anemia, thyroid, BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) and strokes.

"We envision the plan to cover all employees and self-employed persons, and voluntary insured persons," Mr Cargill told the Business Outlook. "We have recommended that the extra programmes by funded by an additional 1 per cent."

That will increase monthly NIB contribution rates from 9.8 per cent to 10.8 per cent. It is unclear whether this will be split 50/50 between employer and employee.
Confirming that NIB had been talking to private health insurers over its plans, Mr Cargill said plan participants would incur only a small co-payment.

He added: "We are lobbying for reduced premiums or additional benefits from your private insurance companies." Claims reimbursements were also said to be on the table.
"We aim for the day when no Bahamian has to choose between paying rent, paying for food or paying for medicine," Mr Cargill said.

Meanwhile, the National Insurance Board (NIB) saw contribution income increase to about $190 million last year.

Mr Cargill said NIB had recorded "remarkable" contribution income despite the economic recession. "In 2008, NIB's contribution income was $155.2 million. In 2009, toughest year so far of the recession, we saw growth of almost $5 million for a total contribution income of $160 million," he added.

"In 2010, we increased contribution income by a further $7.9 million, and in 2011 NIB's contribution income will increase to approximately $190 million. These advances can certainly be accounted as remarkable given the recessionary times we are in today.

Mr Cargill credited the increases to well planned strategies taken by NIB to encourage and facilitate contributions, as well as enhance the collection process.

According to Mr Cargill, administrative expenses for 2011 amounted to $40.5 million, and that as a percentage of contribution income, these have averaged around 21 per cent. He pledged that NIB would reduce this percentage "significantly" in the future, having "done a good job" in containing them in recent years.

On the benefit expenditure side, NIB is forecast to have paid out $182 million in 2011, a slight increase from $176 million in 2010. That represents a $30 million increase from the $152 million payments in 2008, with much of the rise coming from the unemployment benefit.

Regarding the unemployment benefit made available through NIB, Mr Cargill said: "As of January 3, 2012, 24,635 have received unemployment awards. We have also paid out approximately $35 million in unemployment benefits.

"From the time the benefit was instituted there have been steady and significant decreases in the number of claims. In 2009, awards totalled 14,071 out of almost 16,00 claims totalling $20.8 million. In 2011, we paid out only 4,500 claims awards out of almost 5,700 claims, totalling $6 million."

NIB generated $75 million in investment income in 2011, and Mr Cargill said its reserve fund had ended the year at $1.6 billion, up from $1.57 billion in 2010 and $1.5 billion in 2008.

Mr Cargill added that the National Prescription Drug plan launched in 2010 now has a membership of more than 70,000 persons, and provides prescription drugs to almost 14,500 active beneficiaries.

According to Mr Cargill, to date the drug plan has paid out more than 170,000 claims and over $3.3 million to participating private pharmacies.

January 13, 2012


Friday, January 13, 2012

The state of our Bahamian economy, multiple downgrades of The Bahamas by credit rating agencies, shrinking revenues, growing debt levels and deficits are clear handwritings on the wall... ...Will the next government have the will, fortitude and courage to rescue us from this downhill motion? ...The Bahamas is crying out for and earnestly awaits the emergence of statesmen and stateswomen in place of politicians

Self-imposed austerity measures advisable for next government

By Arinthia S. Komolafe

As we enter into another election season and the next general elections of our beloved nation approaches, one of the greatest uncertainties that dominates the thoughts and minds of the average Bahamian is the current crippled state of our economy.

Our national debt has increased during this economic crisis to more than $4 billion today with no end in sight to this spate of government borrowing.

In the last 2-3 months alone, the government has borrowed more than $200 million for the Water & Sewerage Corporation, roadworks in Andros and construction of bridges in Abaco. The spending spree embarked upon by the government could erroneously suggest that The Bahamas government has been issued a blank check or a credit card that has no limit.

The reality remains however, that these loans will have to be serviced in the interim and ultimately repaid by current and successive generations of Bahamians with the debt to GDP expected to climb to an estimated 70 percent by 2016.

Despite this massive borrowing, the real unemployment rate (including discouraged individuals) remains at more than 18 percent and no new industries have been created or expanded by the government.

An economic recovery in which the working class can return to work is desperately needed. The hope of realizing the Bahamian dream of receiving quality education, a well-paying job, owning a home and savings toward retirement must be rekindled within our nation.

With the current state of affairs, it is clear that the successful political party at the polls this year will have to take a hard-lined approach toward fiscal policy and make tough decisions which may include self-imposed austerity measures to curb the current rising debt.

Currently, all eyes are on Europe and the Eurozone, which is experiencing what has been termed as the euro-debt crisis. The European Commission has given strict orders to members of the European Union to carry out austerity measures to reduce their growing debts and deficits. The ultimate reason for such a hard-line approach is to sustain the Eurozone and save the Euro; the failure of which will spell a major disaster for the world economy and impede the ability of the global economy to climb out of this economic crisis in the near future. British Prime Minister David Cameron has failed to fall to pressures to cut back on austerity measures and has gone as far as declaring that “we are living in the age of austerity”.

Even more profound is Cameron’s articulation that he was prepared to be a one term prime minister who did the right thing as opposed to a two-term prime minister who did the wrong thing. He asserted that this was the right route to create jobs and an environment for economic growth.

The prime minister of Spain in the same vein recently announced further austerity measures to the tune of $11 billion and has committed to reducing his country’s deficit to 4.4 percent using measures such as a freeze on public wages and tax hikes on the wealthiest Spaniards. Greece has also taken measures to carry out deep pay and pension cuts, tax increases and has committed to carry out changes to collective bargaining agreements. France will increase its Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5.5 percent to 7 percent on many consumer goods except goods like produce, non-alcoholic beverages and water.

Meanwhile in the U.S., President Barack Obama has already signed $11 trillion in spending cuts into law and proposes more cuts. He has also committed to reforms on the cost of Medicare and Medicaid.

It would be unreasonable for The Bahamas to sit back and do nothing to help our own economy while the U.S., the EU and countries around the world are carrying out radical reforms to curb spending and revive their economies. Countries that have been inclined to borrow from International Financial Institutions (IFI) like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have had to use austerity measures to reform their economic policy to reduce their dependency on borrowing. We must be proactive and do something before we are told to. It is time to face the music, stop the rhetoric and make diversification of our economy a reality. The government of the day will have to become innovative and strategic to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and create opportunities and jobs for Bahamians outside of the unstable and vulnerable industries of tourism and financial services. Understanding that FDI inflows are currently constrained due to the current state of the global financial markets, it must find new ways of creating revenue to service the national debt and fund essential social programs like education and healthcare. In the short-term, reforms must be made to the public service to achieve efficiency gains. This may mean job cuts where necessary, revisiting the statutory retirement age and improving tax collection.

The continuous excessive subsidies allocated to government-owned enterprises must be reduced and eventually eliminated, with privatization of these enterprises being looked at more seriously. With the reality of wage expense approaching 50 percent of government revenue, job and pay freezes may have to be initiated by the government with job freezes on essential services like education, healthcare and national security being exceptions. The government will also have to consider welfare reform and a reform of its pension policies in a manner similar to that of the private sector.  In the medium to long term, the reform of the existing tax code is inevitable; a progressive form of taxation must be implemented and the feasibility of a Value Added Tax (VAT) regime should be explored. The next government must commence the process for revamping the existing tax code in the best interest of the country and of generations yet unborn. No one will argue that the current tax code which combines indirect and direct taxation is regressive and disproportionate to say the least. The tax structure in The Bahamas does not factor in the disparity in purchasing powers of individuals and corporate entities. While it may be argued that in the case of individuals, it boils down to better paying jobs and/or qualifications, the reality remains that the absence of a progressive form of income tax guarantees that the less privileged will always pay more and have less at their disposal. It goes without saying therefore, that the gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widen unless the tax code among other things is addressed.

The above recommendations may be a hard pill to swallow for many not least the government and ‘special interests’ who form part of the ruling economic class that have for decades failed to pay their fair share of taxes. It is imperative to state that the positive affect of such a bold stance toward the fiscal prudence and the financial position of this country will not produce positive results right away, but if carried out with due care and diligence, they will produce positive results in due time.

The socialist former prime minister in Canada, Chretien was faced with a similar challenge when his government was forced to carry out self-imposed austerity measures due to the rising debt in Canada. His government cut government spending across departments drastically and increased taxes on the rich. Cabinet ministers were given marching orders to reduce spending. The government witnessed a reduction in the debt-to-GDP ratio from 67 percent in 93-94 to 34 percent in 1997. More importantly, the resilience of Canada during the recent financial crisis was attributed to his tough actions several years ago. The next government can take a page out of Canada’s book which has proved to be successful and must make tough decisions for our country’s sake. The state of our economy, multiple downgrades of The Bahamas by credit rating agencies, shrinking revenues, growing debt levels and deficits are clear handwritings on the wall.

Will the next government have the will, fortitude and courage to rescue us from this downhill motion? Will they put country over self and party politics? The Bahamas is crying out for and earnestly awaits the emergence of statesmen and stateswomen in place of politicians.

Jan 12, 2012


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Whitney Bastian says he was denied a nomination to run on the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) ticket in South Andros because some members of the organization were afraid that party leader - Branville McCartney would not win his Bamboo Town seat... and if Mr Bastian won in South Andros, he would become leader of Branville McCartney's party


Tribune Staff Reporter

BAMBOO Town MP Branville McCartney appointed himself leader of the DNA despite suggestions that he was elected internally, former party member Whitney Bastian has claimed.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Bastian said he cannot accept the official story of how Mr McCartney became leader of the party - because it was he, Mr Bastian, who had made up that story in the first place.

He said: "I advised them to tell to people the elections were over, when the truth is there were no elections. He appointed himself leader.

"When we had a meeting with potential members, we told them there was an election and the leader post was taken, but that was not true," he said.

"I dare him to say otherwise. He knows he appointed himself. If he says he didn't, let him produce the minutes of this so-called meeting where he was elected. Where was it? When was it? Who was there?

"He couldn't tell you because there was no election."

Mr Bastian said he originally planned not to say anything, but because Mr McCartney refuses to acknowledge that the former South Andros MP helped start the party, he feels compelled to speak out.

"I did not want people to think just because I did not get the nomination I was bitter and was making up things about Mr McCartney.

"I was just going to let him get beat up from the PLP and the FNM, but he started this so I'll finish it.

"He is still a novice in politics and he still has a lot to learn.

"He seems to forget I went to the Parliamentary Commissioner to negotiate on behalf of the DNA to use the lighthouse as the symbol for DNA. I didn't do that as a potential candidate, I did that as a partner.

"He seems to forget I encouraged him to leave the FNM. I told him if he didn't the Prime Minister would chap him at the knee and kill him politically."

Mr Bastian said he was going to form a party on his own, but Mr McCartney asked him to wait.

"We both decided that he would leave the FNM when the BTC issue came up. When I went to Panama, he called me and told me he couldn't wait until then. I told him I would support him in whatever he decided. After that we began working on the DNA and having long meetings. He constantly asked my advice and I have emails to the effect.

"Did he do that with every potential candidate? No, he didn't," Mr Bastian replied.

On Monday, Mr McCartney denied he started the DNA with Mr Bastian. In fact, he said, if Mr Bastian really did help form the DNA, he would have never been denied a nomination to run on the DNA ticket in South Andros.

In response, Mr Bastian said he was denied because some members of the party were afraid Mr McCartney would not win his seat and if Mr Bastian won, he would become leader of the party.

Mr Bastian said he still considers Mr McCartney to be "a brother," but said he could let his involvement in the DNA be misrepresented.

Mr Bastian is now running in the South Andros constituency as an independent candidate.

Mr McCartney could not be reached for comment last night.

January 11, 2012


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

With a general election that must be called by May of this year, Hubert Ingraham has let it be known that this time around he is bringing forward a new, younger slate of Free National Movement (FNM) candidates

Ingraham’s changing party

A new generation of FNMs expected to come forward as candidates

By Brent Dean
Guardian Associate Editor

After coming so close for so long, the Free National Movement (FNM) found gold in the last decade of the twentieth century.  Hubert Ingraham, the former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) minister and chairman, led the opposition party out of the wilderness and to victory.

Two decades later, that same party is depending on that same leader to win it a fourth mandate.  To do so, he has pledged change.  This change is not philosophical or organizational.  He’s changing faces – this in an effort to win a contest in tough times.  Some have already started complaining and calling ‘the chief’ names.  But being the only man to ever lead the party to success, is anyone in the FNM qualified to question his decisions?


Where they came from

The FNM is a coalition movement – as is any lasting party.  Remnants of the old United Bahamian Party (UBP) and rebels from the PLP formed the organization.  Its first general election was in 1972 and it lost that vote.  The FNM won 39.3 percent of the votes cast – the PLP won 59 percent.

The FNM struggled for the next two decades, losing the 1977, 1982 and 1987 elections to Sir Lynden Pindling’s party.  Ingraham joined the FNM in 1990 and led it to victory on August 19, 1992.  He, the poor boy who grew up in Abaco, ended the 25-year rule of Sir Lynden.

Over the next five years Ingraham took the FNM to its pinnacle.  It won in 1997 by a landslide margin, with Ingraham declaring after the poll that he could have won them all.

The PLP only secured six seats in that race – it lost one of those seats in a by-election following Sir Lynden’s retirement.

In the 1997 election, Ingraham cut the number of seats in the House of Assembly from 49 to 40 and he took the FNM to 57.7 percent of the popular vote. This was a massive swing from where the party was when it first took on the PLP in 1972.

What Ingraham brought to the FNM was winning.  Though Sir Kendal Isaacs and Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield are regarded as historic figures, those former FNM leaders could not deliver the ultimate prize. And in politics, winning is the only marker of judgment for leaders.


Who will run in 2012?

Ingraham won the FNM’s third mandate in 2007 by securing just under 50 percent of the vote.  The term has been difficult, however.  The financial crisis of 2008 was devastating and its effects persist.  The unemployment rate was 8.7 percent then.  It is now above 13 percent.  There have been four murder records in five years.  The $120 million road work upgrade for New Providence has been poorly managed by the contractor, Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles, and the government.  And Atlantis, the project initiated during Ingraham’s first term, has been taken by a creditor.  The prosperity resulting from that resort contributed to the FNM’s landslide win in 1997.

For the FNM, this election will not be easy.  Despite the efforts by the government to push back against the effects of the most significant recession since the Great Depression, voters often blame those in charge when things are not going well.

With an election that must be called by May of this year, Ingraham has let it be known that this time around he is bringing forward a new, younger slate of candidates.

No one will know for sure until the final names are listed, but from either public statements made by Ingraham, ‘word on the street’ or statements by candidates, the team will look quite different.

We know Kenneth Russell won’t be an FNM candidate again under Ingraham.  Clifton MP Kendal Wright is probably in that same category.  Also in the not-running-again group is Larry Cartwright, who has made it known he is bowing out.  North Eleuthera MP and House Speaker Alvin Smith too is out, seemingly along with Marathon MP Earl Deveaux.

Quite a few people are rumored to be in the ‘moving category’ – that is, sitting MPs or candidates who are leaving the areas they ran in last election.  Desmond Bannister is moving from Carmichael to North Andros.  And Zhivargo Laing, Loretta Butler-Turner, Dion Foulkes and Phenton Neymour are also said to be going elsewhere.


Reshaping the party is wise

For Ingraham this is likely his last general election.  Having sat in Parliament as an MP for Abaco consecutively since 1977, he has done it all.  He has even done something Sir Lynden could not.  He regained power in 2007 after stepping aside following his party’s 2002 defeat.  Sir Lynden, his mentor, tried but was unable to get back in the throne after his 1992 defeat.

Many tangible things have occurred during this FNM term.  The straw market was finished; the national stadium was completed; a terminal at the airport was built, and others are under construction; the unemployment and prescription drug benefits were created; millions of dollars have been spent on the water system and roads in New Providence; the Bahamas Telecommunications Company was privatized; the container port is almost built; major investment is underway to upgrade the hospital; the magistrates complex is almost done; and there have been upgrades to the Supreme Court complex.  Even more accomplishments could be listed.

The FNM during its campaign will argue that it is the party of doing and Perry Christie and his party are the party of talk.  Ingraham will list what he has done and ask the people to choose between talk and action.  At this stage of his career he will fight hard to win, but if the people want what he would describe as ‘mere talk’ over action and doing, then I suspect that he would be quite happy to say he did his best and to retire.

But before going, if that is to be Ingraham’s fate, it is wise to give the next generation a chance.  One of the major criticisms many

Bahamians have of the PLP and the FNM is that both Ingraham and Christie have stayed too long.  One of the ways to push back against this criticism is to empower the young now.

If the FNM wins, those young people would be in positions to lead right away.  If the FNM loses, those young people would have the experience of an election.

Those old FNMs who have had multiple opportunities to run should not feel badly if Ingraham tells them it’s over.  It is his party.  And that is so because he is a proven winner.  Within the party, he has earned the authority to set his line-up for an election.  Is a man a tyrant, as he was called by Russell, simply because he makes political moves to best position his party, in his mind, for an election?  Of course not.

In politics there are no friendships.  There are just alliances of convenience.  In the weeks to come as Ingraham refines his list of candidates, more FNMs will come to learn this – which is something they should have known when they entered politics.

I have always thought that both leaders should have retired by now, but that is neither here nor there at this stage.  For each to allow the next generation to step to the frontline at this election is a reasonable compromise in our centralized political system.  Those they used to get this far, who have been or will be discarded before the election, should look back fondly on the time they spent ‘in the mix’.  You were the tools of great men.

Jan 09, 2012