Saturday, March 31, 2012

We evaluate a few areas of the Free National Movement's (FNM's) Manifesto 2007

FNM Manifesto 2007: Delivered or not?

By Arinthia S. Komolafe

Rather than take political parties’ slogans at face value, it would be prudent for voters to revisit the contents of these parties’ manifestos and thoroughly scrutinize them to ascertain whether they have made good on their promises.  After all it is often said that past behavior is a good indicator and predictor of future performance.  It is therefore necessary for the electorate to be aware that they are the true lie detectors within Bahamian democracy.

In this piece we evaluate a few areas (which by no means is exhaustive) of the 2007 manifesto of the governing Free National Movement (FNM) with a view to determining whether it has in fact delivered on promises for national development and prosperity as its slogan “We Deliver” suggests.

In its manifesto, the FNM committed, among other things, to budget deficit reduction.  While it is accepted that the current economic climate would have impacted the achievement of this promise on a significant scale, the government appeared to have made no significant efforts to reduce the deficit.

The government being strapped for cash simultaneously increased taxes and engaged in enormous borrowing.  The FNM government failed to carry out moderate austerity measures such as restructuring of the civil service or revising its pension scheme.  This is bearing in mind that civil servants’ wages account for a significant portion of the governments budget expenditure.

Fiscally, the government committed itself to maintain a “no income tax fiscal regime” during this term of office.  It can be argued that the current government is opposed to any real commitment to tax reform by failing to consider a progressive tax structure, which is desperately needed.  A genuine and constructive discussion on tax reform should not expressly exclude any form of taxation.  Rather, all options and possibilities should be explored in the national interest.  The FNM’s view as stated in its manifesto, could translate into the poor and working classes continuing to carry the burden of government expenses in this country.

Investment projects and the economy

According to its manifesto, the FNM had hoped to foster strong economic growth through domestic and foreign direct investment.  Unfortunately, little or no new major investments were secured during this term and we continue to witness an increase in the unemployment rate while the government struggled to create real job opportunities during its term in office.  The establishment of a Small and Medium Size Enterprises Facilitation Center as promised in its manifesto could have arguably improved the economic environment in The Bahamas and mitigate the negative impact of the recession.  The passage of legislation to address this sector could have fostered job creation and potentially an increase in government revenue from license fees, customs duties and property tax.

While the initiative on the part of the government to implement unemployment benefits to assist individuals up to a maximum of 13 weeks is noteworthy, it seems fair to state that such a program is reflective of the government’s inability to stimulate economic growth and create an environment for job creation.

Monetarily, the FNM had promised to eliminate exchange control during this term in office.  It is obvious that this promise was not delivered.  The justification for the maintenance of the exchange control regime by proponents of the same and the government in recent times has been its role in shielding Bahamians and Bahamian entities from the full impact of the global recession.  The position and actions of successive governments toward this topic suggests that they are of the view that Bahamians and Bahamian entities are unable to conduct their own affairs financially.

The crime issue

The issue of crime is one of the main topics going into the next general election.  It is no news that crime levels in The Bahamas have escalated during this term of the FNM government.  Arguably, the inability of the government to create sufficient jobs to reduce the unemployment rate has contributed to a surge in all levels of crime.  Despite mixed reviews emanating from the recent engagement of an international consultant by the government, the fundamental issue of crime and the fear of crime can not be overemphasized and should not be politicized.  The reality is that any advice given by local or foreign consultants or law enforcers are only as good as the government’s own will to enforce the laws it enacts and put in place measures to reduce illegality at all levels.  An attitude of no tolerance should be enforced toward minor crimes such as traffic infractions to issues of illegal immigration, illegal gambling and murder at the greater end of the spectrum.  Successive governments have continued to make crime a political issue as opposed to a national issue.  Crime was used as a major political issue in the 2002 general election by the FNM and not surprisingly it is back at the forefront in the 2012 election season.

Other promises

The 2007 manifesto of the FNM government also promised the implementation of a Consumer Protection Agency.  It is imperative to state that the legislative framework had already been put in place by the previous Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration.  The FNM also promised to push for mortgagors to transfer their mortgages between lenders at no cost.  The manifesto under review also vowed to enact private pension legislation to ensure workers save toward their retirement, continue public service reform and revise the General Orders for public servants.  With the exception of transfer mortgage cost elimination, it seems apparent that these promises were not delivered.

The question is not whether the FNM-led government delivered on promises it did not make as it can be argued that the FNM vicariously delivered on some PLP projects set in motion before the PLP left office.  Such projects include the Lynden Pindling International Airport, the straw market, national stadium, Baha Mar, the I-Group project in Mayaguana and others.  In the final analysis, we must ask the question: Did the FNM deliver on promises that it made in 2007?

All political parties and aspiring leaders ought to do right by the Bahamian people and deliver in large part on the promises set forth in their manifestos.  When it is all said and done, people often forget what was said at the last rally or what was printed in the editorials. However, a manifesto must be referred to not only during the election season, but during the successful party’s term in office.  It is also incumbent upon political parties to distribute their manifestos well in advance of Election Day to facilitate public debates on the issues and solutions put forward.  We must cross-reference today’s promises with those made five years ago to ascertain whether the promises are the same and whether the promisor, based upon its actions and/or performance, will truly deliver on its promises if it is successful at the general election.  The persistent distribution of manifestos just weeks before Election Day is an insult to the Bahamian people, perpetuates a society of ignorance and prevents the electorate from making an informed decision on their party of choice.

• Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law.  Comments can be directed at:

Mar 29, 2012


Friday, March 30, 2012

Edmund Moxey's tortured heart and soul over the New Jumbey Village planned for Fort Charlotte

How PLP colleagues stole Ed Moxey's ideas

tribune242 editorial

IN LEAFING through the Ed Moxey files in The Tribune's archives last night, we were not surprised to find that the Coconut Grove MP's own colleagues were trying to take credit for his cultural concept - Jumbey Village. In other words, they were trying to steal Mr Moxey's own brainchild from him.

We say not surprised because the PLP came to power with a strange personality quirk -- call it what you will, some at the time referred to it as a mammoth inferiority complex. However, they seemed to want to wipe the slate clean.

To hear them talk, Bahamian history started on January 10, 1967 when the Progressive Liberal Party defeated the United Bahamian Party and for the first time in the history of these islands ushered in majority rule.  For this we give them full credit. Although for generations there were many Bahamians, and even English civil servants, whose courageous decisions helped change a people's thinking to prepare the way for the historic transfer of power, as far as the PLP were concerned the past - and the men and women who were a part of it - did not exist.

And so it was not surprising that they felt that Ed Moxey was getting too big for his boots and had to be chopped down, and his creation snatched from him.

But on that day in 1967, it was Lynden Oscar Pindling who was the chosen leader for the historic change. And, although, as many -- Mr Moxey included - maintained he soon lost his way, no one can take from him that single achievement.

However, the prevailing attitude among the PLP of that day was that nothing that happened before 1967 was of importance, and anything created afterwards naturally had to have been created by them.

And so, Mr Moxey should have seen the handwriting on the wall when he formed a cultural committee, invited community leaders, including Prime Minister Pindling, and outlined his ideas for a community created "of the people, by the people, for the people."  The enthusiasm to get started was so overwhelming that a few weeks later Mr Pindling (as he then was) called on Mr Moxey to "make him part of the machinery". In good faith, an enthusiastic Ed Moxey offered the prime minister the position of Parliamentary Secretary Community Development. Mr Pindling's acceptance would be the eventual kiss of death for the project.

By 1974- with the building of Jumbey Village well on the way -- ominous storm clouds started to form. That year Jumbey Village was excluded from the Budget. The Coconut Grove MP said that government's efforts to "suppress" Jumbey Village was the result of petty jealousy by individuals who felt that only they should be involved in certain national activities.

The fight was on with Tourism Minister Clement Maynard, whose Ministry was busy planning a festival site at Fort Charlotte on the same lines as Jumbey Village.  This would have been the death knell for the Village and the last hope of attracting tourists with their dollars over the hill to patronise the struggling businessmen there. Mr Moxey was outraged. He said he knew nothing about the Fort Charlotte plans until he learned about the Goombay Festival -- also his idea that he envisioned for his people over the hill.

"The amazing thing," said Mr Moxey, "was that I was parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister at the time and he was honorary chairman of the Festival, but I knew nothing about it.  My name was never mentioned and when I raised hell they tried to shut me up."

Mr Moxey challenged Mr Maynard's statement that Goombay was the corporate idea of a number of people. "This is a lie," he thundered. "It was entirely my idea.

"In a letter to Prime Minister Pindling on May 15, 1974, drawing his attention to a newspaper headline that read: "New Jumbey village planned for Fr Charlotte site," Mr Moxey wrote in part:

"This is a very serious matter which may have very serious repercussions.  As you may recall, sir, the Minister and Ministry of Tourism stole the Goombay programme from me and my people and sold it to foreigners who are now doing a good job in keeping it to themselves, while the people for whom it was designed are going out of business and are on the verge of starvation. Now he seems hell bent in an attempt to take the Village concept to Bay Street.

"My heart and soul are tortured," the letter continued, "my people now suffer great pain because it would appear that you and your Minister have struck a death blow to their dreams and aspirations.

"Let me remind you, sir, that we have made tremendous sacrifices to bring you and your Government to power and God's eyes are on the sparrow.

"I do humbly pray," the letter concluded, "that you use your good office and influence to restore sanity to this nation 'Now', for which you are ultimately responsible."

The Fort Charlotte plans never succeeded and Jumbey Village crumbled back into the dust from which it came.

"The Price of Being a Man, the story of Ed Moxey and the undoing of Jumbey Village and the Quiet Revolution," written and narrated by Anthony Newbold, will be shown at 8pm Sunday on Cable Bahamas -- channel 12. It commemorates the 25th anniversary of destruction of Jumbey Village.

March 27, 2012

<<< Mr. Edmund Moxey says that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government's efforts to "suppress" Jumbey Village resulted from petty jealousies of individuals ...who believed that only they should be involved in certain activities of national importance>>>

<<< The birth and death of Jumbey Village: ...the story of what might have been, and what in fact turned out to be Edmund Spencer Moxey's greatest triumph as well as his biggest disappointment... the creation of a place called Jumbey Village, and his struggle to secure the ideals that would have guaranteed the progress first envisioned as part of the quiet revolution>>>

<<< In all honesty, the idea of urban renewal cannot be claimed as being the brainchild of either the Christie or Ingraham administrations... It preceded both by many years... In fact, Urban Renewal in the broadest sense of the word was the brainchild of Sir Stafford Sands, the creator of this country's tourism and financial industries>>>

tribune242 editorial

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This 2012 general election, you should vote... so that whatever historic result is announced that night (or in the days after), you can say, “I helped do that”

Let's just vote

It’s time for Bahamians to make their decision on the next government of The Bahamas

By Brent Dean
Guardian Associate Editor

When I left St. Anne’s School in 2007 after voting in the St. Anne’s constituency election, I knew how I would vote at the next general election, whenever it would be called, if a certain scenario persisted.  The scenario I thought might continue has, and I will do in a few weeks what I thought I would do five years ago when I walked out of the voting booth.

For some voters the main issue or main issues are clearly defined. The rhetoric of campaigns cannot sway these voters away from fundamental ideals or an overwhelming concern.  So for some of us, the pre-election jockeying has not been as interesting as it has been to others.  We simply want to vote and see what the final result will be.

This is a landmark election for Bahamians.  We could make a man prime minster for 20 years; restore another man who is nearly 70 to office; or vote for a third party and make it a “permanent” part of our political process.  Of course, there is also the option that because there are three parties running in each constituency there might be no majority winner.

Though some play coy and suggest deciding on who to vote for is a complicated exercise, the choices are quite defined.  And barring a miraculous, new grandiose promise we all would have to think over, little else is likely to emerge that will move a large bloc of voters.  So rather than watching another constituency office opening, or seeing another TV ad or hearing one more wild accusation of corruption or malfeasance, it would be great if we could just hurry up and vote.

Those clear choices

This will be the largest voters’ register in Bahamian history.  There are already about 170,000 registered voters.  If it takes the full two months for an election to be called, who knows, there may be 180,000 people eligible to vote on Election Day.

Our choices are the Free National Movement (FNM) led by Hubert Ingraham; the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) led by Perry Christie; and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) led by Branville McCartney.

For those who want to vote for a leader, you have seen Ingraham govern for 15 years and Christie for five years.  There is enough of a body of work there on each side for you to know what these men would do if given another chance to lead.  Few leaders change in the twilight of their careers.  Don’t vote for a leader assuming that he will be different than he was over the many years you observed him in public office.

If you think the country has done well under Ingraham’s rule and you like his policies and style, he’s your man.  If you think Christie was a much better executive during his five years in office than Ingraham ever was when he was PM, then go gold.

Evaluating McCartney, however, takes a little more effort.  He has not been a member of Parliament for five years.  He has not been a party leader for one year.  For those who choose him over the others I suspect the feeling exists that 20 years of Ingraham-Christie rule has been inadequate.  A vote for McCartney, therefore, is hopeful, rebellious and exploratory.

While a vote for Bran may be all those things, a wasted vote it is not.  There are no wasted votes in elections.  Each voter has a right to cast a ballot for the best option available to that voter, and in doing so the people collectively choose who leads, who follows and who will have to try again.  The objective of elections should not be just to be on the side of a winner, but rather for each of us to contribute our best opinions to selecting the best people to represent us as a governing side and as an opposition.

Now while some vote for leaders, others vote for candidates.  Here it is necessary to determine the person best able to advance the interests of the community at the national and local levels.  While there are only three people “seeking” the post of prime minister (I discount the marginal parties and their leaders from this calculation), in each constituency there will be three or more candidates.  The numerous independents and marginal parties offering at the election create a host of options for voters.

The unregistered and the non-voter

With all these options out there to vote for, there are still some people who are unregistered.  There are also some people who are registered who do not intend to vote.  Now, there are some people who do not vote for religious reasons.  Let’s exclude them from our discussion.

Of the others who are not casting ballots, there are individuals out there who are intellectually lazy.  Rather than spending the time considering the issues, or the records of the candidates or parties, or examining the policy positions of the various factions, this group just complains.

They say this leader is not good enough; that party is not good enough; nothing will change if I vote.  There are people in countries such as Cuba, China, North Korea and Zimbabwe who only dream of free, fair and consistent elections.  Lazy voters, those who won’t take time to make a decision as to who to vote for, do not realize the significance of the opportunity they have.

A little effort, a little maturity, taking a little time to get off the social network gossiping, could easily lead to a voting conclusion.  You don’t have to love the option to participate.  It is fine to pick the best of the bunch, as a person or group on the ballot will lead your country and make decisions to impact your life and those of the people you love.

Election night

When it is all said and done history will be made at our next poll.  One of our senior statesmen may be retired, or a young man and his new party may become historic figures.  For now, Christie, Ingraham and McCartney are moving around with the swagger of stud lions.  On election night, there is almost no scenario that would make all three of them happy.  One or two will likely be devastated.  One or two may not come out in public for some time.

This is a good thing.  Democracy works when the powerful need and fear regular people.  You will decide their fates.  They are almost finished promising and pleading.  What is to come is up to you.

With all power comes responsibility.  This election, you should vote so that whatever historic result is announced that night (or in the days after), you can say, “I helped do that”.

We have a beautiful country that has some problems at this time in its history.  That beautiful country needs you to help set it on a new course.

Mar 26, 2012


Monday, March 26, 2012

Mr. Edmund Moxey says that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government's efforts to "suppress" Jumbey Village resulted from petty jealousies of individuals ...who believed that only they should be involved in certain activities of national importance

The destruction of Jumbey village

tribune242 editorial

"NO, I can't believe it - that can't be true!" This was Coconut Grove MP's Ed Moxey's shocked reply in May 1974 when a news reporter called to ask what he thought of a report that government had planned to build a replica of his Jumbey Village at Fort Charlotte. If true, this meant that the tourist dollar would remain on Bay Street and not flow to little businessmen Over the Hill where it was sorely needed. Mr Moxey knew that any development of Fort Charlotte would be in direct competition with Jumbey Village.

The whole idea of Jumbey Village -- built in 1971 on the reclaimed City Dump -- was to create a community centre with arts, crafts, music, a school, library, clinic, and social centre. It was to be an area, created by an indigenous people who hoped through their cultural programmes and craft work to attract tourists with their dollars to the village. When Mr Moxey was elected to the House in 1967, his belief was that the PLP was dedicated to providing a government "of the people, by the people, for the people."

In January 1975, Cat Island MP Oscar Johnson was to pour scorn on his government's "rich members who had forsaken over-the-hill" to dine on Cable Beach at the PLP's eighth anniversary celebrations. He reminded his party that over the hill was "the source of the PLP's strength." He warned that it could also be its eventual undoing.

In 1974, Mr Johnson told the PLP that 90 per cent of "black staff" working in the hotels lived over the hill, and from experience it was known that a "man with a toothache cannot smile." These were the areas, he said, that needed social change -- a change envisioned in the community concept of Jumbey Village.

That year, Mr Moxey and several (PLP) government members criticised their government in the House of Assembly because funds for the completion of Jumbey Village and the planned community youth programmes had not been included in the 1974 Budget. Nor was Jumbey Village included in the Ministry of Tourism's Goombay Summer programme -- a programme the Coconut Grove MP had suggested in 1972 should be held in Jumbey Village. His protest resulted in him receiving a personal letter from Prime Minister Pindling firing him as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Culture with responsibility for community development.

Mr Moxey said that government's efforts to "suppress" Jumbey Village resulted from petty jealousies of individuals who believed that only they should be involved in certain activities of national importance.

In 1973, Mr Moxey had written a letter to then Deputy Prime Minister AD Hanna demanding a retraction and apology for statements Mr Hanna had made about him using slot machines for fund raising. Mr Moxey found his statements "maliciously designed to discredit me in the eyes of the public." Mr Moxey got no apology. Nor was his letter acknowledged.

And then a rumour was started.

"For months now," said Mr Moxey, "political elements have gone around in my constituency whispering about misconduct on my part when I was handling the birth of Jumbey Village. They talk about money. Well, the Ministry of Education and Culture investigated the matter and have found every single cent accounted for. The report was sent to Minister Livingston Coakley. For four months I have been asking him to release the report in order to clear up the matter. He has refused to do so."

Mr Moxey, like Carlton Francis after him, was a marked man. He had become too popular and, therefore, had to be consigned to the political graveyard. Jumbey Village eventually followed.

When government funds earmarked for the Village, but not fully used, were frozen, parents, teachers, and schoolchildren raised $90,000 to complete the museum.

"It would be a gross insult to them," Mr Moxey said, "to now duplicate a museum at Fort Charlotte."

Not to be left out, the late Wenfred "Sife" Heastie added his two cents to the debate. Mr Heastie was not only a staunch supporter and major financial contributor to the PLP, but he was also deputy prime minister A D Hanna's uncle.

"Ed," he said, "is the only man who did something personally in his district. He built a community centre and a day-care centre in his district and he built Jumbey Village out of the dump. They are jealous because the rest of them don't have a damn thing to show, except the new houses they moved into in the east and in the west."

He said the PLP government cut Jumbey Village from the development budget because "to get Ed Moxey out of the picture they have to let Jumbey Village die a natural death. If they cut off everything this will die and Ed will die. And to speed up matters, they're going to Fort Charlotte to build their own version of Jumbey Village."

In July, 1987 Jumbey Village cultural centre was torn down to make way for the proposed National Insurance Building.

Mr Moxey tells his story on a DVD -- soon to be released-- entitled "The Price of Being a Man -- the Quiet Revolution and the undoing of Jumbey Village".

<<< Edmund Moxey's tortured heart and soul over the New Jumbey Village planned for Fort Charlotte>>>

<<< The birth and death of Jumbey Village: ...the story of what might have been, and what in fact turned out to be Edmund Spencer Moxey's greatest triumph as well as his biggest disappointment... the creation of a place called Jumbey Village, and his struggle to secure the ideals that would have guaranteed the progress first envisioned as part of the quiet revolution>>>

<<< In all honesty, the idea of urban renewal cannot be claimed as being the brainchild of either the Christie or Ingraham administrations... It preceded both by many years... In fact, Urban Renewal in the broadest sense of the word was the brainchild of Sir Stafford Sands, the creator of this country's tourism and financial industries>>>

March 26, 2012

tribune242 editorial

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A reflection on the political retirees' class of 2012... following the 2012 general election

A reflection on political retirement

thenassauguardian editorial

The early months of 2012 have been dominated by the general election.  It will be the eighth general election in an independent Bahamas.  Of the seven we have had, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) won four and the Free National Movement (FNM) won three.

But before a single vote is cast this time around, we will say goodbye to some long-serving politicians.  After the votes are counted we will say goodbye to even more of them.

For those who lose the nomination fights to come, and to those who lose the various constituency elections, a graceful exit would be a better conclusion to a long career than whining, complaining and hostility.

No one should assume that there is a career in politics.  What should happen is men and women with talents and successes should offer themselves for public service for a period.  The people then select the best of the best and those individuals should do their best to improve the community they serve.

No elected official should want to serve a lifetime in politics.  In fact, for talented and successful people there should be an urge to go back to the private sector or to private life.  So when that time comes, through the loss of an election or nomination fight, exhaustion or whatever other reason, saying goodbye should not be hard.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham seems to agree with this perspective.  He summed it up well in the last sitting of the House of Assembly for 2011 on December 13.

“My hope is that those who seek public office will consider it a duty and responsibility to serve and not to gain a personal advantage,” said Ingraham.

“Conversely, individuals should come to accept that not being elected to Parliament will not be a disadvantage.

“They can expect to be treated fairly whether in or out of office.  It is very important for a democracy to have as its underpinning that if you get elected and you are unelected that you can live in a society as any ordinary person.

“You can live [by] rules that are clearly established, that you can be employed, that your children can have access to whatever availabilities to society, and that no one will be out to get you because you have served in politics.

“And it is my hope that we will move along those lines in a more evident way.

“If we don’t evolve to that level, we will continue to produce governments with members who will fight tooth and nail to be in government because they fear being out of government.

“And you should never fear being out or in.  You ought to do the best you can while you are in and when you are out, you ought to feel like you can live a normal life and be bound by the same rules you put in place while you are in.”

Being able to depart graciously also sets a good example for future generations.  It demonstrates that power is something to be shared.  Countries that are at war or in a constant state of upheaval are in such states because powerful factions cannot share power.

The political system is also renewed when new minds enter.  Those who were born during the World War II years, and who were raised during the Cold War years, should now be seeking to leave politics, handing power over to those who came of age during the Internet years.

So for those who will be sent home from the political scene in 2012, be not afraid or saddened.  You were never supposed to be there forever.

Mar 24, 2012

thenassauguardian editorial

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The birth and death of Jumbey Village: ...the story of what might have been, and what in fact turned out to be Edmund Spencer Moxey's greatest triumph as well as his biggest disappointment... the creation of a place called Jumbey Village, and his struggle to secure the ideals that would have guaranteed the progress first envisioned as part of the quiet revolution

Backbenchers disillusioned by govt - Moxey

tribune242 editorial

THERE are those today who are convinced that if Ed Moxey's dream of a cultural community centre in the heartland of the Grove had been allowed to grow, the shipwrecked state over which we mourn today would not have had a chance to develop.
Jumbey Village was conceived by Mr Moxey as a cultural centre to unite a people as they struggled to improve their lot -- socially, culturally and economically. It was envisioned as a centre to be built by the people for themselves. They would have their school, library, social centre, clinics, sports, music, and arts and crafts from which they could sell their own creations. And, of course, they would be surrounded by music -- their own music. Mr Moxey, himself a musician, the son of the well known pianist, the late George "God Bless" Moxey, and his group would be one of the many participants. It was through the Jumbey Village movement that Timothy Gibson, the author of the Bahamas' national anthem, came into his own.
On Sunday, March 11, the showing of a documentary on Ed Moxey and the birth and death of Jumbey Village was premiered at the Performing Arts Theatre at the College of the Bahamas. It was the 26th anniversary of the destruction of Jumbey Village.
"The Price of being a man" is the story of Ed Moxey, Jumbey Village and the "quiet revolution."
"This then," said the commentator, "is the story of what might have been, and what in fact turned out to be Edmund Spencer Moxey's greatest triumph as well as his biggest disappointment, the creation of a place called Jumbey Village, and his struggle to secure the ideals that would have guaranteed the progress first envisioned as part of the quiet revolution. It is told as seen through his eyes, those who reported on it and in some instances, those who were involved in facilitating its creation and ultimately watching its destruction."
According to Mr Moxey "shortly after the 1967 election, many of the PLP, especially the backbenchers already had concerns about the direction in which the new government was heading." He said their first Speech from the Throne in the House of Assembly appeared to be a "continuation of the same old policies of the United Bahamian Party (UBP)." Of course, there was the exception of Sir Stafford's commission of a development plan for New Providence that "would have transformed over the hill, in particular the Grants Town community."
That plan, designed by Columbia University's School of Architecture, was completed and delivered shortly after the UBP was replaced by the PLP as the government of the Bahamas. Each member of the House at that time was given a copy. It is questionable whether any member ever looked at it. It was a golden opportunity lost for community development in New Providence.
Very shortly after the election, said Mr Moxey, he "became concerned about whether or not the Bahamian people would see the social, cultural and economic liberation promised by the PLP's 1967 victory at the polls."
Mr Moxey was so concerned that they would not that in June 1967 he called a meeting at his home for the PLP backbenchers. He did so, he said, because nothing had been said by their leaders about "educating the masses about how government worked and protecting their well being" or "cultivating and nurturing our cultural heritage and only some vague representation of social programmes."
According to Mr Moxey "the backbenchers to a man, all expressed disgruntlement with what they considered a deviation from the original goal of social, cultural and economic upliftment of the people, with ministers building little kingdoms unto themselves."
It was then that Mr Moxey predicted that the "country would end up on the rocks, or with very serious challenges."
Said the commentator: "There is no smoking gun, just a paper trail 21 miles long and 7 miles wide, stretching all the way back to 1969. A trail that exposes betrayals, pettiness, internecine warfare and what has been called deception of the highest order. It shows a government backtracking or just plain ignoring its own stated policy that 'community development must play a vital role in the development of this nation, specifically mentioned in the White Paper for Independence that 'community development centres will be progressively and systematically established in densely populated areas to cater for pre-natal and post-natal needs, Child Day-Care needs and the recreational needs of the people."
* Next we shall tell the brief, but tragic story of the birth and death of Jumbey Village.
March 23, 2012

In all honesty, the idea of urban renewal cannot be claimed as being the brainchild of either the Christie or Ingraham administrations... It preceded both by many years... In fact, Urban Renewal in the broadest sense of the word was the brainchild of Sir Stafford Sands, the creator of this country's tourism and financial industries

A people betrayed, says Ed Moxey, of the Pindling years

tribune242 editorial

THE PANACEA to all this country's social problems is Urban Renewal, PLP-style. The constant cry of the PLP is that the FNM came along, stole the PLP's idea, destroyed it and, in so doing, opened a Pandora's box of destruction for these islands. Everything, including escalating crime, both in the streets and in the schools, can be blamed on the elimination of the PLP's novel idea -- Urban Renewal.

For their part, the FNM maintains that although police patrols were removed from the school campus, the structure of urban renewal was not destroyed, but rather improved upon and broadened.

In all honesty, the idea of urban renewal cannot be claimed as being the brainchild of either the Christie or Ingraham administrations. It preceded both by many years.

In fact, Urban Renewal in the broadest sense of the word was the brainchild of Sir Stafford Sands, the creator of this country's tourism and financial industries.

In a conversation with Sir Stafford shortly after the UBP lost the government to the PLP in 1967, he assured us that he was leaving a financially healthy government. All the PLP had to do, he said, was to sit on their hands and let all his party's plans go through and the country would be in good shape. However, if they got itchy fingers and started tinkering, everything could collapse.

Sir Stafford Sands was a five-year planner. A brilliant, and well organised man, he always worked on a five-year plan. So when the PLP came in, they would have found that tourism conventions, and functions had been booked for five years into the future and the Public Treasury was financially sound. Sir Foley Newns, the able colonial British administrator, who had worked with Sir Stafford as Cabinet Secretary from 1963, was kept on by the PLP until 1971, just one year short of Sir Stafford's five-year programme. Slippage started after he left.

Sir Stafford, the Minister of Finance in Sir Roland Symonette's government, with the approval of his colleagues, commissioned a Development Plan of New Providence Island and the City of Nassau in the summer of 1966. Working through the United Nations, Columbia University's division of Urban Planning in its School of Architecture was engaged to do the work.

What resulted was a magnificent, detailed, beautifully presented transformation of this island -- down to where every underground pipe was to be laid. It also provided for population growth. It was unfortunate that it was completed and returned to the Bahamas in the spring of 1967 after the UBP had been voted out of office. However, every member of the House of Assembly received a copy. And there it died.

"If it had been implemented," said Mr Moxey in his documentary, "the plan would transform over the hill, in particular the Grants Town community, installing a sewer system, and laying out the city centre, in a way seen only in Grand Bahama and Mathew Town, Inagua. There would be green spaces and bike paths, and streets dedicated to the children of New Providence."

About 13 years later, Arthur Hanna, then deputy prime minister, explained the reasons for the plans not being considered. He said it was because "there was no cost assessed for the implementation of the plan; no one was identified to pay the cost, and there was no suitable organisational administrative mechanism for translating the plans into reality".

On that statement alone -- exposing both incompetence and lack of imagination -- the PLP government should have been fired. A master plan had been put in the their laps, and they were waiting for a fairy godmother to show them how to use it.

The UBP government's urban renewal plan was introduced by Ed Moxey, a former member of the PLP Cabinet at that time, in his documentary, which had its premier showing on Sunday night in which he recorded his personal sacrifices to try to save Jumbey Village for the upliftment of his people. In the end, he lost the battle, but not his integrity -- although Sir Lynden also tried to take that from him. In his documentary Mr Moxey told how Sir Lynden had betrayed a trusting people, and the price that he personally had to pay for having an idea that dwarfed his party leader's myopic thinking.

Last night, Mr Moxey in speaking of Sir Stafford's plans, which preceded his own vision for Jumbey Village, had this to say:

"It is unfortunate that the Urban Renewal Study and programme initiated by Sir Stafford Sands for the black masses of Bahamians was trampled under the feet of our leaders and advocates of the Quiet Revolution in 1967.

"It is like I said 25 years ago, the revolution was betrayed and after 45 years of majority rule our people over the hill still live in substandard conditions using outside toilets and water pumps. Oh, my Lord, what a shame!"

Is this the unsound bridge that Opposition Leader Perry Christie has invited Bahamians to cross with him into the future? We hope not.

March 22, 2012


tribune242 editorial

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Bahamian relationship with the Haitians who migrate here is complicated... Haitians have come to The Bahamas since the creation of the Republic of Haiti in 1804... With the collapse of Jean Claude Duvalier’s regime in the mid-1980s, however, those flows increased Haiti’s poor looked for new lives in new places

Embracing multiculturalism

thenassauguardian editorial

The comments of Haitian President Michel Martelly to Haitian-Bahamians when he recently visited The Bahamas led to much debate.  Martelly advised Bahamians of Haitian descent to form a voting bloc, and to vote for the party that has their best interests at heart.  His remarks exposed raw emotions on the immigration issue in our country.

The modern Bahamas is a nation created through migration.  The Amerindians Christopher Columbus met here 520 years ago are no more.  Europeans and Africans displaced those people when permanent contact was made between the old and new worlds.

Today’s Bahamas is even more ethnically and culturally dynamic.  People from the Middle East, China and India also call this country home.  They bring their experiences to our cultural mix, expanding The Bahamas.

The Bahamian relationship with the Haitians who migrate here is complicated.  Haitians have come to The Bahamas since the creation of the Republic of Haiti in 1804.  With the collapse of Jean Claude Duvalier’s regime in the mid-1980s, however, those flows increased as Haiti’s poor looked for new lives in new places.

Some Bahamians resent the large number of poor Haitians who have come here looking for a second chance.  Some Haitians are upset at the discriminatory treatment they have received from some Bahamians.

Martelly should not have gotten involved in Bahamian politics while visiting.  Staying out of local politics while on foreign trips is a convention of diplomacy, but his intrusion into Bahamian politics is no excuse for bigotry and xenophobia.

The Government of The Bahamas has as a responsibility of carrying out the laws of the country.  It should provide our border protection officers with all the resources needed to prevent people from illegally entering Bahamian territory.  Foreigners who come here illegally should be repatriated in accordance with the law.

But what must be remembered is that those who are given citizenship are Bahamians once that decision is made.  They should be afforded the same rights and privileges as other Bahamians.

We can debate who should be given permanent residence as opposed to citizenship.  Countries have the authority to set residency standards based on the consensus of the times.  However, we should not disparage those given status or argue that they are lesser citizens if citizenship was granted.

In deciding to become part of our community these new Bahamians bring different ideas, languages, traditions, foods and energies to our already multicultural society.  And as a culturally richer community, we should work together to solve common problems.

Haitian-Bahamians should not close themselves off and form exclusive political blocs to defend themselves.  Haitian-Bahamians should, like all other Bahamians, examine the various political parties and candidates and determine who is best to advance The Bahamas.

Conversely, “native” Bahamians should not fear the inclusion of new people into our commonwealth.  What should exist is an immigration policy that can reasonably control who comes to The Bahamas.  We should seek to recruit people from around the world – in the numbers we think reasonable – to add skills to our country.  In doing so, we as a nation become stronger.

When governments are unable to police the flow of people to a territory, the established community becomes suspicious.  Hence, it is important for clear immigration policy to exist and resources to be provided to help ensure the policy is enforced.

We hope the passions cool on this issue.  Ethnic rivalry has made many countries unstable and has led to conflict and war.

Mar 23, 2012

thenassauguardian editorial

Thursday, March 22, 2012

...the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has tried to gain political mileage by stirring up a controversy over oil exploration in The Bahamas

Oil drilling in the Bahamas - the facts behind the scares





IN RECENT weeks, the Democratic National Alliance has tried to gain political mileage by stirring up a controversy over oil exploration. But rather than focus on the very real substantive issues in a constructive way, they chose to launch a series of personal attacks and conspiracy charges.

In view of the enormous international pressures and revenues that can be expected, together with the dramatic changes to our way of life that are implicit in future oil production, not to mention the incredible pollution risks, it is worth taking a closer look at this issue - particularly in the context of the accusations of cover-ups and carve-ups.

Our original petroleum act was passed in 1945 to facilitate exploration by Gulf Oil, Standard Oil, Superior Oil and Shell. It was replaced by legislation enacted by the Pindling government in 1971, which came into effect seven years later and remains in force today.

The last exploratory well was drilled here in 1986 by a company called Tenneco, and while no commercial production followed from those early explorations, there were oil shows and most experts are convinced that large quantities of petroleum lie beneath our seabed.

The Christie government awarded a British group (later constituted as the Bahamas Petroleum Company) five new exploration licenses for just under four million acres in 2006. The licenses became effective just before the last general election in April 2007, when they were signed by the governor-general. And for the past several years, BPC has been conducting geophysical research in the Bahamas.

Now BPC says it is preparing to conduct appraisal drilling south of Andros, and the DNA thinks this amounts to a conspiracy involving secret deals. The party has set up a Facebook petition on oil exploration, asking Bahamians to sign "If you think we should control our resources to benefit all Bahamians, so we can demand answers before it's too late".

From the commentary it has made, the DNA is clearly not opposed to drilling, but is simply trying to stir the pot. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it depends on how it is done. Accuracy and honesty are important when making public statements on complex issues. Publishing false statements and facilitating wild allegations will lead to a rapid loss of credibility.

For example, according to the DNA, "this government negotiated a 12.5 per cent (royalty), one of the worst in any country". In fact, it was the Pindling government - back in 1971 - that set a then industry-standard minimum royalty rate of 12.5 per cent "of the selling value at the well-head of the petroleum won and saved from the licensed or leased area".

And, contrary to what the DNA now alleges, the licenses awarded to the Isle of Man-based Bahamas Petroleum Company in 2007, set a sliding scale of 12.5 to 25 per cent of production value, a fact which BPC clearly shows on its website.

Those licenses were never renewed, because the government imposed a moratorium on oil exploration in 2008, while efforts were made to pin down precise maritime boundaries with Cuba, the US and the UK/Turks & Caicos Islands. The boundary with Cuba - where four of the BPC licenses are located - was finalised last October.

In 2010 - following the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill - the government decided to step back and review the entire petroleum policy framework before allowing exploration to resume. The Ministry of the Environment also required all license holders and new applicants to produce environmental impact assessments for the areas they wished to explore.

There are currently seven approved licenses for oil exploration in Bahamian waters, and 10 applications for new licenses have been submitted since 2008. Five of the approved licenses are held by BPC. The other two are held by Liberty Oil, but were suspended because of the company's failure to remove a sunken vessel from an Abaco reef.

A US company called NPT Oil has applied for seven licenses covering more than six million acres north of Grand Bahama. NPT's Bahamian data and assets were recently acquired by Pennine Petroleum Corporation, an emerging oil and gas exploration and development company active in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

A Canadian geophysicist named Allan Spector has applied for an onshore license near Seymours on north Long Island. And a partnership between BPC and the Norwegian company Statoil has applied for three licenses covering more than 2.3 million acres near the Cay Sal bank.

DNA Montagu candidate Ben Albury - who has led the party's campaign on this issue - says he is simply demanding transparency and information. But he has also accused Environment Minister Earl Deveaux of gross malfeasance, without any evidence, and has succeeded in making the issue more opaque, rather than clearer, for the average Bahamian.

"My main issue," he told me over the weekend, "is the dodging of the questions by Deveaux. If you listen to his comments, he makes it sound as if there is a moratorium on oil exploration, (but) BPC is telling the media that they intend to drill in the coming months."

Albury cites a Miami Herald article published last October, in which Dr Paul Gucwa, BPC's chief operating officer, refers to plans for an exploratory well by the end of this year. "The Bahamian government has a moratorium on granting new exploration licenses," the Herald reported, "but... that could change following the country's May general elections. BPC has contacted 10 major international oil companies about partnering in its oil exploration operations."

A review of Deveaux's statements on this matter over many months, if not years, shows an entirely consistent position. He has repeatedly stated that the exploration freeze will remain in effect until an updated regulatory system has been put in place. He has also said that the present government is committed to the widest possible public consultation on the issue of oil production.

However, if you listen to the talk shows, some Bahamians are already gearing up to stop work and collect their "black gold" dividend cheques, while others are worried about secret backroom deals in which the well-connected carve up the country's seabed for their personal benefit.

Interestingly, there may be some truth to this. As mentioned earlier, experts have believed for decades that large quantities of oil and gas lie beneath the Bahamian seabed, and now that drilling technologies and market prices have reached the point where exploitation is not only feasible but profitable, we can reasonably project a massive influx of petroleum revenues in the near future.

But that is precisely why the government is seeking to overhaul our regulatory, legislative, environmental and financial regimes, in order to lay the groundwork for the orderly development of this industry (whether you like it or not). As Deveaux told me over the weekend: "Without detailing all the issues inherent in something so materially significant, it is a clear responsibility of the government to prepare the country for oil and its likely consequences."

The DNA appears to be confused because, under existing Bahamian law, licensees are required to drill an exploratory well within a certain timeframe - which in BPC's case is prior to April 2013 - or risk forfeiting their rights. The company says it has completed the required environmental impact assessment for this test well and is already working on a management plan.

Meanwhile, Environment Ministry officials have met with their counterparts in Norway to discuss revisions to the existing act and regulations, and consultants have produced working drafts for the government to review, after which they will go to the attorney-general. Deveaux says the proposed regulatory system will be included in his hand-over notes for the next government.

"Our visit to Norway in December was very useful and the government has agreed in principle to use that country's policies as a guide in developing a Bahamian petroleum industry," Deveaux said.

Norway began offshore petroleum production in 1971 and is now the world's seventh largest oil exporter and second largest gas exporter, with some 600 licenses awarded to a variety of companies. Norwegian officials have advised the Bahamas to have all the essential elements of oil and gas governance in place before any drilling begins. These include environmental, safety, tax, revenue, training and employment policies; contingency plans; and insurance requirements.

Norway's national petroleum policy seeks "to ensure long term management of, and value-creation from, the country's petroleum resources". Oil and gas activities are restricted to offshore waters, and all subsea resources are vested in the state, which is charged with managing them for the benefit of Norwegian society as a whole.

As we said, under the current Bahamian act, an exploration license includes an obligation to drill, and a bond must be posted to that effect as a way of precluding speculators. Exploration licenses are awarded for an initial term of three years, renewable for two successive three-year periods, but the 2008 moratorium meant that BPC's original license was put on hold and never technically renewed.

Similarly, if BPC's exploration is successful, current law says it is "entitled" to a renewable 30-year lease to begin commercial production. The royalty rate for production of oil and gas is based on a sliding scale of 12.5 to 25 per cent (from which the lease fee is deducted), with no other taxes or fees required. Equipment can also be imported duty-free.

On its website, BPC says that its license expires on April 26, and it has applied for renewal. The company notes that if it meets its obligations, "the governor-general shall renew the licences for another three years provided the company commits to drill an exploration well and (starts) the well before the end of the first renewal year, ie, by April 26, 2013".

So there is clearly some tension between the positions of the government and BPC, which claims to have invested $50 million so far to explore. Appraisal drilling is projected to cost several hundred million more, and obviously the company expects to benefit from this investment. But the petroleum act was written 40 years ago, and is silent on many of the complex issues the Bahamas would face as an oil producer.

Meanwhile, the DNA has rightly argued that oil drilling threatens two of the country's biggest industries - tourism and fishing. "(We) demand to know if Mr. Deveaux and the FNM government have ensured the protection of Bahamian interests," Ben Albury says. Well, the short answer is that Deveaux has repeatedly talked of the need to train Bahamians to manage a new regulatory environment.

"We have to come to the public with full information," Deveaux told me. "We want a standard of management similar to that of Norway. We need a petroleum directorate that is fully staffed with a range of expertise, including financial. If oil is produced we will be dealing with billions of dollars, changing the whole culture of the country and the way the government deals with money. It is no small thing."

In Norway, for example, surplus oil revenue is deposited in a $600 billion sovereign wealth fund so that the country's non-renewable resources can benefit future generations. The fund is managed by the central bank, under rules developed by the Ministry of Finance, and is responsible to parliament, with the interest used to cover government pension obligations.

Consultants have also advised the Bahamas to increase royalties and adopt profit sharing with oil companies in order to compensate for the absence of a corporate income tax.

As noted earlier, BPC's licenses were awarded by the Christie administration in 2006, and signed by former Governor-General Arthur Hanna in April, 2007. It is noteworthy that PLP candidate Jerome Gomez is the company's resident manager, former PLP cabinet minister Sean McWeeney is its senior counsel, and PLP deputy leader Brave Davis' law firm is the company's onshore legal advisor.

What is even more noteworthy is that the PLP has so far ignored this important public debate. The FNM's position is that "nothing can happen until the government approves and nothing will happen until there is public consultation". The DNA says it will hold a national referendum on oil exploration and production. The PLP is heavily conflicted in this matter and has said nothing.

Did someone mention carve-up and cover-up?

* What do you think? Send comments to or visit

March 21, 2012


Bahamas Blog International

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We remember when Mr. Dennis Dames first started writing letters for publication in The Tribune... and so we guess that he is too young to remember the elections of the sixties and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) "goon squads" where election violence all started

Protect our Constitutional rights

tribune242 editorial

OUR CONSTITUTION guarantees every resident of this country the right of free speech, conscience and assembly. No one - election or no election - has the right to interfere with these basic freedoms. Those who do should be severely punished.

Freedom of conscience assures each and everyone of us the right to our beliefs, regardless of how others might disagree. Freedom of expression gives us the right to express those beliefs as we see fit, as long as we respect the rights of others to do the same. In other words we all agree to disagree, but in a friendly manner, one respecting the right of the other to have his turn on the floor. We also have the right to free association with persons of like mind, including political parties. Under our Constitution, no one has the right to interfere.

These inalienable rights should be ingrained in each of us from childhood. To be devoid of them on reaching adulthood means that such persons have been lost on the fringes of civilisation. They live in a democracy, but they neither belong nor appreciate that democracy. The only time that there is a squeak out of them is if someone retaliates by stepping on their toes -- it is only then that they become aware and quickly demand their constitutional protection.

In a letter to The Tribune today, Dennis Dames commends Killarney MP Dr Hubert Minnis (FNM) for calling for "calm heads to prevail" during this election season.

"We must remember," said Dr Minnis, "that we are all Bahamians and when the election is over, we must all still live together in this Bahamaland. It is not unusual for one home to have individuals who support different political parties but what is unusual for us, is for family members not to support each other, instead allowing political persuasions to affect our family bond.

"We must continue to respect an individual's right to speak, support and vote for the party of their choice, as this is the fundamentals of the democratic process at its best. We must bring out the best in each other; we should practice patience, hospitality and love. We should abstain from mud-slinging and personal attacks on each other because at the end of the day, we all want one thing, a better Bahamas. No one wants to live in a violent, unfriendly environment."

Dr Minnis called for peace and respect one for the other on learning that the daughter of one of Grand Bahamas' FNM candidates, and three other supporters were sprayed in their faces with a fire extinguisher by a PLP supporter.

Why would anyone carry a fire extinguisher to a political rally? This case should be thoroughly investigated and, if found to be true, the culprit or culprits should be severely punished.
In commenting on Dr Minnis' call for calm, Mr Dames wrote that he had "never experienced such touchiness, itchiness, and angriness among Bahamians of different political perspectives in the Bahamas until now".

He said that if things continue on this course, "we could be in for something violently new in our electoral process and it will be a direct reflection of our 21st century political leadership in the Bahamas".

We remember when Mr Dames first started writing letters for publication in The Tribune, and so we guess that he is too young to remember the elections of the sixties and the PLP "goon squads" where election violence all started.

Today we are only reaping the seeds that were sown then -- violence, disrespect for law and order, disrespect for our elders and ourselves, satanic worship at the altar of materialism - on and on into today's pit of degradation. Today in almost every aspect of our decadent social behaviour we are reaping the evil seeds that were sown then.

In those days, the PLP's goon squads, with their loud clackers, were so violent that public rallies could not be held. We recall one night covering a political meeting in Fox Hill's school house when the building was stoned. The foreign journalist with us, sent to cover the election, was so frightened that he crawled under one of the classroom benches for protection. People were injured, people were sent to hospital. Their pictures made the front page of The Tribune.

Bahamians were frightened to write letters to The Tribune, and those who did never attached their names. One night a woman's home was stoned because it was believed that she had written a letter critical of the PLP to The Tribune. Properties were burned, a policeman was sent to The Tribune to try to force us to reveal the identity of a Freeport letter writer. The police officer disliked his assignment as much as we did, and so we had a friendly chat, wished him well and sent a stinging message back to the PLP Cabinet minister who had sent him. By the seventies, we were into the drug years --fast boats, retaliatory killings, and a general breakdown of all the rules that had held a Christian society together. Fast money was a badge of success.

And so do not "send to know for whom the bell tolls," it tolls for each and every one of us. Now is the time for zero tolerance -- either that or surrender our society to the refuse born and bred in the sixties.

March 21, 2012

tribune242 editorial