Friday, February 24, 2012

...when the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) talk about projects stalled for review by the Free National Movement (FNM) government, the voter has to carefully examine the facts to find out exactly why they did not go ahead... ...They will soon learn that none of them was delayed or cancelled by the FNM

PLP's projects had to be completed by FNM

tribune242 editorial

THE PLP are singing their old refrain again to lull voters back to sleep.

If it's not crime increasing because police officers have been removed from the school yard, and Urban Renewal PLP-style has been revamped, then it's the collapsing economy. Apparently, the Bahamas' economy has gone into recession, not because international banks have collapsed and poor old Greece can't meet its debts, threatening to drag an already nervous world down with it, but because the FNM government, on being returned to government in 2007, made the Bahamas' recession worse "by stopping, reviewing, and cancelling PLP projects".

On the flip-side of that coin is the question: Why didn't the PLP give these projects the green light to go ahead before being turned out of office? According to their logic, the Bahamas would have had a booming economy if their projects had gone ahead. So what went wrong? Why did they drag their feet when they neared the finish line? If all of these projects had been buzzing ahead when the FNM became the government, then Bahamians would have been working. But, no, for some reason, there were contracts that just needed a signature to get them started. It was left to the FNM on coming to office to complete the paper work, put the shovel in the ground, and move them on.

The investments that did not go ahead had nothing to do with any FNM "stop, review and cancel" programme, but rather with the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008, leaving many investors strapped for cash. Several of these investments bit the dust because of this - the GINN project in Freeport eventually being one of them. The Ritz Carlton hotel for Rose Island was another stalled investment that never got off the drawing board. As was Royal Island near Spanish Wells, a Marriott Hotel and the Rockford Lighthouse Point project in Eleuthera. All this because investment cash had dried up -- nothing to do with the Ingraham government.

Apparently, the Urgo Hotels continue discussions with a view to moving forward in Eleuthera.
We recall the night many years ago when the late Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling stood on a platform in Freeport and laughed at Hubert Ingraham's humble beginnings, dismissing him as merely a "delivery boy".

Immediately, The Tribune picked up the slight and turned it into a triumph. Aha! we chortled. That is just what the Bahamas has been waiting for -- a delivery boy. And we predicted that this was one delivery boy who would deliver. And, by Jove, he did. Even now, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has had to deliver many of the investment plans that were left unsigned on prime minister Perry Christie's desk when he was voted from office.

In a statement in the House shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Ingraham said the Christie government had claimed it had brought $20 billion of direct foreign investment into the country during its five years in office.

"We have looked for it," said Mr Ingraham, "but cannot find it."

He said his government found a number of Heads of Agreement completed for a number of projects by the Christie government, but it was the FNM that had to table several of them in the House. Mr Ingraham said that with the exception of the Phase III expansion of Kerzner International and a billion dollars in land sales to international persons (GINN, Kerzner and the Abaco Club), the FNM was unable to find the billions the PLP claimed it brought in.

Negotiations for a proposed development of a PGA Village in Cat Island was also in suspension when the PLP left office. The negotiations were completed by the FNM shortly after its return to office.

We understand that expectations were high that the project would move forward notwithstanding the economic downturn because its principals were very well funded. Mr Ingraham even attended a ground breaking ceremony in Cat Island. While planning and design work continues and some preliminary work commenced on the layout of the golf course, the project has not moved forward as expected.

And so when the PLP talk about projects stalled for review by the FNM government, the voter has to carefully examine the facts to find out exactly why they did not go ahead. They will soon learn that none of them was delayed or cancelled by the FNM.

February 24, 2012

tribune242 editorial