Monday, September 30, 2013

The Economic Consequences of Value Added Tax (VAT) are real ...and every business and retiree needs to know how his life, his company and his bank account will be affected by the Value Added Tax (VAT)

The Consequences Of Vat Are Real

Nassau Institute

Ishmael Lightbourne, consultant to the Ministry of Finance, in an ad hominem attack on the Nassau Institute describes the research report, ‘Consequences of the Value Added Tax for Bahamas’, as being “extreme, ridiculous, exaggerated and inaccurate”, and is being read because it “bashes” the Government.

Mr Lightbourne also accuses the Institute of promoting ideology he describes as “spending cuts to reduce the size of government and slashing the fiscal deficit”. Pity governments of both political parties failed to foresee the consequences of reckless spending and the ever growing public debt. There may now be concerns about the creditworthiness of the country’s debt among the lenders. The increased risk attracts higher interest rates for the lenders, and the likelihood of lower living standards for the borrowers, the Bahamian tax payer.

As for the statement “it is only being read because it ‘bashes’ the Government”, Mr Lightbourne may not know that businesses across the country are reducing hours of employment, cutting margins, trimming expenses and other measures to compensate for currently reduced economic activity and ever-increasing costs.
The Economic Consequences of the VAT are real and every business and retiree needs to know how his life, his company and his bank account will be affected by the Value Added Tax (VAT).

Bashing government may be an outlet for genuine fears and frustrations. Who would blame them?
September 30, 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013

...troubled by Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) CEO Simon Potter’s recent comments ...that the financial terms his company “tied down with The Bahamas Government are second to none.”

By Kendea Smith
Jones Bahamas

Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner says she’s “troubled” by Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) CEO Simon Potter’s recent comments that the financial terms his company “tied down with the Bahamas Government are second to none.” She is now questioning what those financial terms are and is calling on the government to respond to those claims.

Just last week, Mr. Potter told a room of potential investors in London that the financial terms with respect to any oil extraction are likely to be “music to people’s ears.”

Mrs. Butler-Turner says Bahamians are being “left in the dark” when it comes to oil exploration and BPC’s general activities.

The FNM deputy leader said it’s obvious that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is putting “foreign interests first and the Bahamian people “dead last” in terms of providing information and consultation on potential oil resources owned by The Bahamas.”

“The FNM reminds the Bahamian people that both Prime Minister Perry Christie, who is also the minister of finance, and Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis both served as consultants for BPC prior to the 2012 general election, during which a referendum on oil exploration was promised,” she said.

“When exactly will that referendum be held so that the PLP can keep that promise as well as the promise of putting Bahamians First? Additionally, when will Mr. Christie and Mr. Davis disclose the handsome financial terms they received as consultants for BPC?”

Mrs. Butler-Turner said she also has questions about discussions BPC had with the government over a referendum for oil drilling.

“What does the BPC CEO mean that ‘underneath the surface’ that any discussion of a referendum has been removed,” the deputy leader questioned.
“Oil exploration is a monumental decision for the country. It must be approached with deliberation, accountability and transparency, little of which now appears to be the case. The Bahamian people and the Official Opposition deserve and demand greater transparency and answers from the Christie government relative of the claims made by the CEO of BPC.”

September 26, 2013

The Bahama Journal

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

...the financial terms that currently exist between Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) and the Bahamian government are “nonsense”

Govt urged to address oil terms

Senior oil sector source calls financial benefits ‘a give away’

By Alison Lowe
Guardian Business Editor

The government is being advised to move quickly to update the terms of its agreement with Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC), which have been dubbed by BPC itself, in addition to by local and international oil industry watchers, as extremely favorable to the company.

Earl Deveaux, former minister of the environment under the Ingraham administration, told Guardian Business that he agrees with BPC Chief Executive Officer Simon Potter’s assessment expressed at a recent London energy conference that the terms on which the government and BPC and its partners would share any oil revenues would appear to be “second to none” in the world for their generosity to the oil company.

Deveaux told Guardian Business that these terms and many other issues should be subject to greater public discussion.

In an address to the London Global Energy Conference on September 16, Potter said that the financial terms surrounding any potential oil discovery in The Bahamas are likely to be “music to people’s ears” given that they revolve around a “simple royalty” payment to the government of 12.5 percent, increasing to 25 percent if oil extraction reaches over 350,000 barrels a day.

Potter noted that the government could seek to change the terms, but highlighted that the Privy Council in London “ultimately remains the final court of appeal” in The Bahamas, suggesting that a legal challenge could be launched were the government to seek to change the terms.

Yesterday, a senior oil industry source in Trinidad and Tobago, which has long benefitted from its own highly-developed oil sector, told Guardian Business that the financial terms that currently exist between BPC and the government are “nonsense”.

“It would amount to a giveaway of the oil sector,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He noted that while Potter highlighted a zero income, corporate or capital gains tax environment in The Bahamas from which the oil company would also benefit, in Trinidad and Tobago royalty payments are accompanied by a production levy on gross income from crude oil, a supplemental petroleum tax based on oil prices that range from zero to 35 percent, a petroleum profits tax or corporation tax charged at 50 percent of gross revenues from all sources less deductible expenses and allowances, and an unemployment levy of five percent.

“Trinidad and Tobago has applied a high taxation regime and has been very successful in doing so,” said the source. “They should think about making changes sooner rather than later.”

Deveaux agreed it would benefit the government to address the financial terms in the short term, rather than waiting until BPC has secured its drilling partner, which it is seeking to partner with to undertake the exploratory well, or until after exploration occurs.

“I would agree that the terms of the petroleum leases are very generous and I have no idea what he’s offered to his prospective investors, but if it reflects what the government has provided for in the lease I expect it would be among the most generous in the world.

“I’ve always maintained publicly and privately that if we were to ever go down the road of exploiting oil reserves in The Bahamas, we would have to sit down and renegotiate those things.”

“I think it is infinitely easier now for the government to undertake any contemplated change that it may wish than if it waited until an exploratory well is drilled or a commercial discovery is made.”

Deveaux said that he sees a broad-ranging discussion about many aspects of what it means for The Bahamas to develop an oil industry as necessary and lacking at present.

“There hasn’t been any discussion, and it’s unfortunate,” said Deveaux.

“We have plenty reasons to review the overall regime and legislation. It was done at the time when certain things were not a part of our reality. We didn’t have Exxon Valdez, the BP oil spill, deep sea drillings off Mexico or Brazil and we didn’t have prospect of rising sea levels from temperature increases. We have to factor in today’s realities, and there are compelling reasons to review it.

“I think the financial reasons are important (reasons to review the terms), but I don’t list them as any more important than others. I would be engaging BPC in discussions about how we would manage this resource for all the reasons I listed and how we would create capacity in The Bahamas.

“There’s the whole review of how natural resource contribution of The Bahamas’ environment is now comprised; We have fishing, recreational tourism, aragonite and pristine waters that have been the host of world wide research in a number of areas. How do you factor that in with a companion oil industry?”

In his address to the Global Energy Conference, Potter described efforts to “bring the (Bahamian) government along” with respect to the development of an oil sector.

This included describing the differences that would exist between any oil extraction that would occur in The Bahamas versus the operation that was undertaken in the Gulf of Mexico prior to the 2011 oil spill, in light of differences in the depth of the drilling, the rock formations in The Bahamas, and the equipment that would be used, among other factors.

The company has completed an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and has an environmental management plan currently being developed. The government has committed to updating oil sector regulations in short order, although it has not indicated if this would include any changes to the financial terms specified by Potter in his address.

Efforts to reach Minister of the Environment Kenred Dorsett were unsuccessful up to press time.

September 24, 2013


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Value-Added Tax (VAT) was approved by the Free National Movement (FNM) and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) governments... ...The question now is: When will it be implemented?

Pm Accuses Critics Of Vat 'Distortion'

Tribune Business 

PRIME Minister Perry Christie yesterday hit back at critics of the Government’s proposed Value-Added Tax (VAT), accusing them of “distortion” and urging the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to publicly back his administration’s plans.
“All over the region and the world VAT has been implemented. The IMF has described it as one of the most efficient forms of taxation,” Mr Christie said.
“Both governments, FNM and PLP, committed to VAT, and it was only a question of when it would be implemented. We came in and indicated that we would implement it.
“We are putting together all of the teams and everything to do with having people educated, and having them participate in discussion on it, so people will become aware of the intention behind it and the effect of it, and how it will be used to better the Bahamas.”
His comments came after the Nassau Institute think tank this week released a study entitled ‘The Economic Consequences of the Value-Added Tax for the Bahamas’. The study was produced by David Godsell, a third year PhD student at Queen’s University in Ontario, and a former Canadian Revenue Agency tax auditor.
It estimated that VAT’s implementation would result in a net $165 million decline in the Government’s total annual revenues, while the private sector would incur a collective $103 million annually in compliance costs.
In addition, the Bahamian economy would see a reduction in per annum GDP of between $322 million and $483 million. The report said studies had shown a tax increase equivalent to 1 per cent of GDP resulted in a GDP decrease of between 2-3 per cent.
Hitting back at the report, Mr Christie said: “When I read of the study commissioned by the Nassau Institute, I was not surprised. They have always taken positions that they say are protective of the economy, but in this case we thought the study was predicated on incorrect premises.
“One of the things that I know we must put in place is the capacity to answer quickly, through informed persons, who are not politicians, these issues about VAT.
“The call I made today is for the IMF, which comes into the Bahamas, and other countries around the world, to indicate whether you are on course with your economy or are managing your economy in the right way, that they have a vested interest to protect the debate and ensure that factual inaccuracies and political distortions do not violate the integrity of what we are trying to do.”
Mr Christie added: “There are lots of people who, for their own reasons, will distort the truth of VAT and use misinformation to cause people to say: ‘I don’t want it’, and we think that it has a disastrous outcome for a country that is following on really with unanimity in policy, where both governments - past and present - are in agreement with the implementation of a new form of taxation.
“For the last five years this has been an issue for us, and now that we have begun the process of implementation we want to ensure that there is honest commentary and that people have an opportunity to hear what it is all about without it being distorted. People have jumped the gun on it, and you have a lot of distortions on what VAT is and what it is intended to do.”
September 20, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Opinions on the grim prediction of the state of the Bahamian economy ...after the value added tax (VAT) is implemented

VAT Panic Increases

By Kendea Smith
The Bahama Journal

A prominent businessman and a well-known economist have differing opinions on the Nassau Institute’s grim prediction of the state of the economy after the value added tax is implemented next year.

According to the institute’s 48-page paper titled “The economic consequences of value added tax” David Godsell, a third year PHD student of Queen’s University School of Business, who authored the paper, says labourers can expect a decline in real wages which will in turn lead to a decline in the labour supply.

He adds that the government would stand to lose $165 million in revenue and the private sector would suffer $103 million in losses.

“Businesses and employers with VAT-based sales can expect reduced demand for goods and services, which will in turn reduce their demand for labour. Under extraordinarily conservative estimates biasing towards heightened government revenues, we forecast VAT adoption will lead to a $165 million decline in government revenues,” he said.

“Simultaneously, we estimate VAT adoption will burden the private sector with $103 million in annually recurring compliance costs and an average of $4,300 in compliance start-up costs for each VAT registrant.”

The report concludes by pointing to failed VAT adoptions in countries similar to The Bahamas and by highlighting contemporary efforts to reduce budget deficits through reductions in government spending.

Upon hearing the news, former Chamber of Commerce President Dionisio D’ Aguilar said this report fuels the concerns of the business community that already fears the tax.

“The government has not made the case where the introduction of value added tax is not going to create an inflationary situation. I can’t see where it is not going to cause prices not to go up. And everybody is talking about prices going up from anywhere between 10 and 15 per cent in order to accommodate this increase in value added tax especially those in the service industry,” he told the Bahama Journal in an interview.

“For companies that don’t import a lot you are now having to collect 15 additional per cent. You either add it on to your price or you eat a portion of it because your customer just isn’t willing to pay an additional 15 per cent for the service that you are selling. So there is no doubt in my mind that it is going to cost an inflation effect because when prices go up and wages don’t budge you are going to have a decrease in economic activity.”

Mr. D’Aguilar pointed out that most businesspeople understand that the government needs to create more revenue because it is spending more than it is taking in.

But he said economists should come together to find other ways to achieve that goal.

“Instead of borrowing the money they want to just get it from tax revenue. So basically you are taking it out of the economy to pay for what you are already spending. It is not as if the economy is going to increase because it is already spending that money. It is running huge deficits,” the businessman said.

“No one is excited about the introduction of new taxes. Anytime you increase taxes there is a huge pull back. The government has one of two choices – it can either increase what it brings in or reduce what it spends. Now, if it reduces what it spends one might argue that that too can cause an economy and cause a recession. The fact of the matter is I agree to a certain degree with what the Nassau Institute has to say. All of these businesses now have to change the way that they do business. You have to pay more taxes to the government, you have to track it more and it is very depressing for a businessperson. It doesn’t get me excited to expand my business.”

But State Minister for Finance James Smith disagrees.

He argues that the government has no choice but to introduce a new tax system because the government’s spending habits cannot be sustained.

“No services are now taxed directly and the VAT will now take into account so at the very least you will be taxing both goods and services. So the government should get more revenue. No one can predict the outcome of the introduction of a new fiscal regime – involving a new tax. But it is highly probable that the government would receive increased revenues and that is likely to reduce the overall deficit,” he said.

“There are a couple of things that are being overlooked. The government walked into a huge deficit and huge build up in debt. If that continues and nothing is done about it the country would be worst off, even the ones that are complaining will complain more if you have to devalue you currency or because of a series of downgrades from international agencies or the inability to even borrow money or that you cannot put in place the necessary things that governments do – like education, health care and law and order.

“You can have a form of chaos if we continue down the road we are going.”

Mr. D’ Aguilar is now urging the government to present the information on VAT as soon as possible to decrease the panic among businesspersons.

“They need to get ahead of this and explain and say look this is what we think is going to happen. The fact that they are just letting it out drips and drabs of information is annoying. For example, what is the rate of duty going to be once we introduce VAT? That is a critical number. Get it out there,” he said.

“We are eight months away from this thing being introduced and it is still very fuzzy on how this is going to work.”

Prime Minister Perry Christie said back in February that, “Intended with the introduction of this new system it is also proposed to affect the eventual reduction in import duties that will accommodate The Bahamas’ accession to the WTO, to reduce excise tax rates to compensate for the VAT, eliminate the business licence tax as currently structured and to replace the hotel occupancy tax.”

The prime minister said the new proposed tax system will also level the playing field for the poorest and wealthiest Bahamians.

VAT is expected to come into effect on July 1, 2014.

September 18, 2013

Jones Bahamas

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) in Fox Hill is a breeding ground for criminal activity

Inside The Prison Walls

By Rupert Missick JR:

IT’S long been said that the overcrowding at Her Majesty’s Prison has been a breeding ground for criminal activity.

It is a place where persons convicted of relatively petty, non-violent or victimless crimes are housed alongside career criminals.

This, compounded by decades of deplorable living conditions, makes HMP a graduate school for those who become some of the nation’s most hardened offenders, according to lawyer Paul Moss.

He said: “When you have a situation where a person who may have been accused of disorderly conduct ends up inside the prison you are not helping. You have violent crimes, crimes where a person may be injured, where a person may be traumatised or killed. Those are different from other crimes. So when a person misses a court date that is different from someone accused of rape, murder or armed robbery.”

Mr Moss said because the Bahamas has the highest rate of incarceration in the Caribbean, serious consideration needs to be given to changing the prison from a punitive institution to a rehabilitative facility.

Her Majesty’s Prison continues to fail to meet international standards, with overcrowding and access to adequate medical care presenting major problems in the men’s maximum-security block.

“I don’t know how we can believe putting people in that condition can help them come out better it’s just not going to happen,” Mr Moss said.

In August last year, authorities reported that the daily population of the prison and the remand centre exceeded 1,600, compared with 1,300 in October 2011.

Minister of National Security Bernard Nottage characterised the extent of overcrowding at the prison as “unacceptable”, attributing the overcrowding to the large number of petty criminals incarcerated and the backlog in processing at the remand centre.

In June, the prison superintendent reported the maximum-security wing of the prison held nearly 900 inmates, which was twice the number of inmates it was built to house when constructed by authorities in 1953.

Authorities reported that as many as six inmates were confined to cells intended for one or two prisoners. Others are housed in poorly ventilated and poorly lit cells that lacked regular running water.

In 2010 authorities installed composting toilets in an attempt to move away from the unsanitary practice of removing human waste by bucket, or “slopping”.

“When one sees the way food is delivered to inmates in huge pots sometimes dragged through the corridors. If there is a chicken, the inmate inside of the cell will give their bowl and the chicken is placed in the bowl with the hands of the inmate serving. Even if he has gloves on it is the most pointless thing because although he has gloves on his hands are touching the bars, touching the crates, touching all manner of things. Those things can be corrected - if there was a will to do it - overnight,” Mr Moss said.

According to a report entitled: “Rehabilitation of Inmates: A National Imperative” by former Superintendent of Prisons Dr Elliston Rahming, for every 270 citizens in the Bahamas, one is incarcerated.

In terms of the size of its prison population, the Bahamas ranks ninth in the world and number one in the Caribbean on a per capita basis. The country has some 435 persons behind bars per 100,000 population.

Mr Moss, who makes frequent visits to HMP, points out that this and the conditions at the prison not only have an affect on the incarcerated but also on the prison officers who work in those conditions.

“It dehumanises them, makes them feel like they are not only punished but being meted out cruel and inhumane punishment and that makes them more angry from what I have seen.”

While the relatively new remand centre has helped to alleviate the overcrowding, Mr Moss said the centre itself is overcrowded.

He said: “I believe it can be corrected if there is an holistic view of the prison system. Persons need to have access to resources that can allow them to redeem themselves and have some recompense. The only way for that to happen is to establish another prison outside of New Providence for sentenced men and permit HMP today to be the one for intake or remand.”

He said that many forget that a person who was once incarcerated will be out on the street again.

“Sometimes you would be lucky and see when a person has been released from the prison and unless they have the opportunity to work on the scheme they would not be given anything.

“Because we have failed to rehabilitate them in a way that would allow them to come back into society it goes back again and the same crimes or worse crimes are committed. Society suffers by being negligent in not permitting wholesale rehabilitation,” Mr Moss said.

September 17, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hubert Minnis and the Long Knives of the Free National Movement (FNM)

For the FNM, a familiar place

By Candia Dames
Guardian News Editor

In some respects, the Free National Movement (FNM) is back in a very familiar place.

After its election defeat in 2002, it was in near shambles.

Hubert Ingraham, who led the party to victory in 1992 and 1997, had gone into retirement, and the party’s new leader, Tommy Turnquest, not only found himself in opposition, but was also without a seat in the House of Assembly.

In that election, many former Cabinet ministers were sent into political retirement.

Turnquest’s dream of becoming prime minister in 2002 was shattered, along with the party’s efforts for a third consecutive victory at the polls.

Turnquest learnt quickly that the post-Ingraham era was a difficult place to be.

A diligent and focused worker, he kept the party together, attempted to chip away at the credibility and popularity of the new Christie administration, and tried to re-oil the FNM machinery to do battle again in 2007.

But by 2004, many in the party had accepted that Turnquest did not have what it would take to lead the FNM once again to victory. He was a difficult sell in 2002 and they felt it was likely he would be a difficult sell in the future.

Turnquest himself accepted that he needed help in determining what the FNM would have to do to return to the glory days and the seat of power.

The then FNM leader appointed an advisory council of the party, headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson, to consider the steps the FNM needed to take to be considered a formidable force at the next election.

That council advised Turnquest that there are many FNMs who wanted him out and Ingraham back as leader.

Seemingly in denial at the course the FNM was on, Turnquest declared not long after that, “We in the FNM will not allow our political opponents to capitalize on make-believe issues in our party.”

Those “make believe” issues eventually led to another leadership change in the FNM in 2005. Hubert Ingraham was back and FNMs had renewed hope.

With the Christie administration already suffering from multiple blunders and scandals, Ingraham’s forceful leadership was the icing for a newly energized and freshly minted FNM, which set its sights on a return to government.


Today, the FNM is suffering from the same kind of lethargy and lack of focus it suffered under Tommy Turnquest.

Added to this is the fact that the party has lost the last three elections: The 2010 Elizabeth by-election, the 2012 general election and the 2012 North Abaco by-election.

Each was a humiliating defeat for the party. Elizabeth was the first dogfight that signaled major trouble for the FNM.

Though the PLP’s candidate Ryan Pinder only managed to edge out the FNM’s Dr. Duane Sands after going to Election Court, it was a major victory for the then opposition that remained ferocious and unrelenting in its assaults on the government throughout the FNM’s last term in office.

Unlike the PLP, the FNM does not now have the same kind of strength as an opposition force. Half of its team in the House is new to politics and its leader is still feeling his way.

Still reeling from the 2012 election blow delivered by Christie and his gold rush team, the FNM was unable to hold on to Ingraham’s former seat when a by-election was held last October.

The party’s candidate — Greg Gomez — became a laughing stock in some circles and caused major embarrassment for the FNM.

But some pundits opined that even with a stronger candidate, the opposition party would not have been able to convince enough North Abaco voters that there was anything substantial the FNM could do for them, no matter how much Ingraham urged them to stay red.

It was a throwback to 1997, when Sir Lynden Pindling’s former South Andros seat went with the governing party in the September 5 by-election.

It was after the North Abaco by-election defeat when Minnis declared, “The Ingraham era is over”.

It was a watershed moment for the FNM as Minnis dug his heels in and renewed his commitment to a new course for the party.

He has been off to a wobbly, lackluster start, but appears determined to stay the course even in the face of piercing criticisms from within and outside his party.

What Minnis has going for him at this point is there is no clear competitor for the leadership of the party.

And although some have become nostalgic and long for Ingraham’s return, there is no evidence that it is likely to happen or that it is even in the party’s best interest.

But it is early still.

Although Minnis won his seat in the House in 2012, the parallels between his leadership and Turnquest’s are striking.

Minnis was a standout MP between 2007 and 2012 in terms of his work and presence in his constituency. But he was also lucky to be in an area traditionally considered a “safe seat”, the boundary cuts notwithstanding.

With the party still demoralized from the 2012 loss to Perry Christie and the PLP, he is attempting to blaze his own path as leader while battling the forces within the FNM still loyal to Ingraham.

The political sport has thus far proven a struggle for him.

Minnis is having a difficult time commanding the respect of many within his party. Though a seemingly hardworking and organized leader, he is not a career politician, he suffers from grave political insecurity and he lacks a natural charismatic flair and style important for successful political leadership.

Many within and outside the FNM just don’t think Minnis has what it takes to be a strong leader.

One political observer recently quipped: “You can’t go to a dilly tree looking for juju.”

Another pointed out however that political victories are more often shaped by the mistakes of the governing party and its leader, than by the strengths of oppositions.

Minnis has sought to stamp himself as a strong and effective leader although his multiple positions on the gambling issue worked against this effort.

His big moment was his very public spat with House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major last month, which led to Minnis being suspended for two house sittings.

Minnis also played the role of whistleblower in the Cuban ‘abuse’ fiasco. Although he initially took a public whipping on the issue, he sought to maximize his political score after a report was leaked in which Defence Force marines admitted severely beating detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

The leader’s new focus is finding someone to lead his party’s Senate team after the resignation of Desmond Bannister from the Upper Chamber.

Although Bannister and Minnis have both said the move was no surprise, some party insiders indicated that it was further evidence that confidence in Minnis’ leadership was eroding.

Bannister resigned with gracious tones, and even characterized Minnis’ leadership thus far as “outstanding” — a declaration some observers saw as laughable.

Bannister is the second senior FNM to resign from the Senate in under a year. Former Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing did so last year, citing personal reasons.

Days after having Bannister’s resignation letter in hand, Minnis had still not made it public. The announcement was made in The Nassau Guardian as a result of a leak last Tuesday.

The letter was dated September 1, although it is understood that Minnis got it several days later as he was out of town.

Minnis said he had planned to make the announcement today and he said a new senator will be named by the beginning of October.

Given that Bannister’s resignation was no surprise to the FNM leader, one assumes he had a new senator in mind a while ago. The choice will undoubtedly be another former minister as the other members of the FNM’s Senate team are junior members of the party in terms of political experience.


After his resignation was made public, Bannister urged FNMs against infighting, saying they have an opportunity to win the next election with Minnis as leader if they pull together.

“If the Free National Movement is to be the next government, people in the FNM have to understand that we can only have one leader at a time. We can only have one deputy leader at a time, and if you aspire to be leader, support them, make the organization stronger and then challenge them when the opportunity comes,” Bannister told The Nassau Guardian last Wednesday.

“But don’t continue to undermine them as some members have done and that is very, very important for an organization.

“Some of this undermining that I have seen and some of these attacks have been unwarranted. We need to support leadership. We need to be team players and as the church continues to tell you, you cannot be a leader unless you have been a follower at some stage.”

Minnis no doubt recognizes that for him the knives are out. And so he has had to try to balance his fight for his political life against his need to be an inclusive leader who listens to the views of all within his party, even those against him — and there are many.

Fortunately for the FNM, it has time to work on its leadership challenges.

Frank Watson, the former deputy prime minister, was instrumental in Ingraham’s 2005 return to party leadership.

Watson told National Review that Minnis should be given more time to prove his leadership abilities.

He recognized that the party’s leadership has a lot of work to do.

“The leadership is not projecting itself in a way that is attracting the attention of the general public and it is therefore not generating the kind of support that we are going to need if we are going to become a challenge to the PLP at the next opportunity,” Watson said.

“I think that those in leadership position first have to bring some cohesion to the leadership, that they’re all on the same page, singing the same song at the same time and that there’s a clear direction that the party is going in with respect to the issues that they are going to promote and a policy position of the party that they are developing to attract the attention of the voters.

“I have determined that Minnis should be given a clear shot and that clear shot should be between now and next year maybe this time to prove that he is capable of doing so.

“He’s not a natural politician, but I have seen any number of instances where if you have the drive, which he has, if you have the desire, which he has, and you reach out to those who can see more clearly the political landscape, you can do the job. The job can get done.”

But Watson thinks it would be a bad idea for FNMs to reach out to Ingraham for yet another return.

“Mr. Ingraham is my dearest friend, and I think he is one of the great leaders of our time, but everybody’s time comes to an end and the party has to find new blood. You can’t be regurgitating all the time,” Watson said.

“You’ve got to find new people to carry on in this new environment. I don’t encourage him at all. No; not at all. I think he’s done the best with what he had.”

He added, “If Minnis recognizes his political shortcomings and reaches out to find the means by which he could overcome those shortcomings, I think he could possibly lead us into the next election.”

September 16, 2013


Sunday, September 15, 2013

The cane toad has no positive ecological value in The Bahamas

BNT warns: Dead cane toads still poisonous

Guardian Senior Reporter

Director of the Bahamas National Trust Eric Carey warned people who may choose to kill cane toads, an invasive species, to be careful how they dispose of the poisonous amphibians.

Carey said that residents should be careful not to dispose of dead toads in areas where they may contaminate the water supply and explained that even when dead, their bodies are still poisonous.

Last week Friday, environmental officials warned the public not to approach, relocate or sell the cane toad if anyone comes into contact with one.

Since the warning, photos have emerged on Facebook showing toads that locals have captured and killed.

Carey warned those who kill the toads themselves to be sure that it is not an indigenous species and to be careful how they dispose of the carcasses.

“If people want to kill them, [they should] know for sure it is a cane toad. It’s an invasive species that has no positive ecological value in The Bahamas. We don’t have preferred methods of killing them, obviously the safe method is to capture and freeze but you know people see it and just want to get rid of it,” he said.

“People are stabbing them with pitchforks and all sorts of brutal things. Are we concerned that people are killing them? Not necessarily, but they should still be disposed of properly and not be put in places where they may contaminate water.

“They still have the poison in them so you don’t want to throw them near a well. I would say put it in a garbage bag and put it in a garbage bin.”

Carey also said officials have confirmed that the toad has spread out of Lyford Cay into nearby Mount Pleasant Village.

Carey could not say if the toad has made its way to other areas of the capital but said it is likely considering the amphibian’s breeding practices.

“They’re going to spread,” Carey said on Thursday. “We now know they have been here since 2011 at least. Initially we were hoping they had only been here three or four months because that’s when people really started seeing them.

“We have a few people who have confirmed with dated photographs that they have been around since 2011 at least, possibly as early as 2010.”

Officials had originally thought the toad was introduced to The Bahamas earlier this year.

The toad can grow up to 10 inches in length. It is able to produce a toxin from glands lying just behind its eyes and is capable of killing small pets and causing severe skin reactions in humans.

Last week, Minister of Environment Ken Dorsett said someone who believes they have seen a cane toad should report the location to the BNT and Department of Agriculture; take a picture and email it to and call Sandra Buckner at 393-3821.

September 14, 2013


Friday, September 13, 2013

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is not a fascist party ...But there is a virulent fascist impulse that developed in tandem with the cult of personality ...around Sir Lynden

The fascist impulse in the PLP

By Simon

There is an entrenched conceit and pernicious lie which constitute the PLP’s claim of superior nationalism, most recently on peacock-like display over the past few weeks.

It is at minimum a sort of soft fascism which seeks to divide the country between the PLP, to whom God or history apparently bequeathed The Bahamas, and those supposed traitors who left or do not support the PLP or who fail to support its policies, or even oppose its wrong-doings.

There are various degrees of the conceit. Within days of each other, three of the party faithful gave voice to the full throttled, high-pitched, chest-thumping “we are better than you” nationalism of which the PLP self-adoringly indulges.

Consider this: Nearing the 60th anniversary of the party’s founding, a PLP-leaning columnist suggests that the party is the more nationalistic of the two major parties even as he has written of his party’s abandonment or mere lip service of certain liberal and progressive values.

Then, a senior Cabinet minister concluded a press statement with a rallying cry to “true-blooded Bahamians”. True-blooded is a synonym for full-blooded, which means, “of unmixed ancestry, purebred”, which invokes all manner of troubling overtones.

The most vile and repugnant claim came from junior minister Senator Keith Bell who attacked the FNM as treasonous and traitorous for comments the party and its leader made relative to the Cuban migrant affair.

Dr. Hubert Minnis has given considerable public service to the country as both a medical doctor and a politician. For the sake of his own credibility and decency Bell should apologize to the leader of the opposition.

While Bell is hardly known for intellectual acuity, certainly even he must be aware that the charge of treason is one of the most serious that can be levelled at a citizen. Treason carries with it the severest of punishments, even capital punishment.


Bell’s claims are as ludicrous as they are malicious. Significantly, he was not asked to withdraw or apologize for his comments by his political seniors. But his words are not new for a PLP that has seen fit to wield malevolent tactics and rhetoric in attempts to beat opponents into submission.

In 1970 a delegation of PLPs travelled to Grand Bahama to apprise local party officials of their alarm at the direction the party was moving in terms of its abandonment of certain policies and the cult of personality mushrooming around an increasingly dictatorial Sir Lynden Pindling.

The delegation included Cecil Wallace Whitfield, Arthur A. Foulkes, Maurice Moore, Garnett Levarity and C. A. Smith, all veterans in the fight for majority rule.

The meeting was held in a school room at Lewis Yard, with a raised platform for the speakers and rows of folding chairs for attendees. The meeting opened with a prayer. Then all hell broke loose.

Having just invoked the Lord’s name, apparently in vain, a goon squad sprang from the front row. They shouted that there would be no meeting. Once on their feet they grabbed the chairs, folding them into bludgeons.

Then they viciously set upon their targets on the platform. They drew blood from Sir Cecil, bashing him in his head, and bruising others.

While a few in the crowd sought to stop them, officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force looked on. They refused to intervene.

What is little known of the Lewis Yard event is that Sir Cecil suspected that something might happen. His instructions to members of the delegation were to keep their hands at their sides if they were attacked.

His reasons were both practical and philosophical. By refusing to return the blows, the delegates were demonstrating a commitment to the nonviolent tactics of the U.S. civil rights movement. Further, there would be no doubt as to the perpetrators of the violence.

On the way out of Lewis Yard, a close associate of Sir Lynden, who would later resign from the former’s Cabinet in disgrace, was observed in a trench coat, standing in the rain.

The scene foreshadowed events to come, including decades of intimidation, victimization, abuse of power and corruption by the Pindling regime.

It does not require of a leap of conscience or imagination to characterize what happened at Lewis Yard and the fascist impulse behind it.

At Lewis Yard, Bahamian citizens, including three members of Parliament, were denied fundamental and constitutional rights including that of assembly and of freedom of speech. They were denied the protection of the state as a mob attacked and police officials stood by watching the beatings.

There is certainly no democratic impulse at play here. The democratic impulse is not frightened by the sort of dissidence exemplified by those at Lewis Yard, who had a difference of opinion as to the direction their party and the country should take.

At the time, one of the highest-ranking PLP ministers sought to diminish what took place at Lewis Yard, noting that such incidents were to be expected in Bahamian politics.

To ensure that those who disagreed with Sir Lynden and his court got the message intended at Lewis Yard, PLP MP Henry Bowen went on ZNS to denounce the dissidents as traitors.

Just to recall, he was denouncing fellow-PLPs who were considered as not only betraying the PLP. By calling into question Sir Lynden’s leadership they were supposedly also betraying the nation.

The charges were replayed on state radio in a barrage and loop of intimidation. Those attacked were allowed no right of reply. Over the ensuing decades the PLP relentlessly utilized ZNS as a major propaganda tool.


Even more diabolical, it kept a monopoly on the broadcast media. In the modern era autocratic and dictatorial regimes understood that the maintenance of political power demanded as much control of the media as possible. It is a fascist impulse to allow only one party line to be heard on state media.

Today still, many in the PLP firmly hold that those who may disagree with them are somehow traitorous and treasonous, even when they oppose wrong-doing in the party as did the Dissident Eight in 1970 and Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie in 1984.

The PLP is not a fascist party. But there is a virulent fascist impulse that developed in tandem with the cult of personality around Sir Lynden.

Unlike the biblical Moses, Pindling, the Bahamian Moses, was set to enter the Promised Land. Thereafter the apotheosis of Sir Lynden, seen by many PLPs as an icon of the nation, whose very persona supposedly embodied the nation, was underway.

The fascist impulse has so invariably developed in parties of liberation and majority rule-cum independence, which almost as an original sin tend to equate the good of their organization and needs with that of a country.

To wit: What is good for the PLP is good for the country. And, the most full-blooded and patriotic Bahamians must be PLP or vote for the party. It is no accident that the PLP chose similar colors for both the national flag and their party flag.

Even as the PLP betrayed the national good whether through wrecking what promised to be a successful national airline or giving drug barons near carte blanche to ply their trade, the party betrayed many of its founding ideals.

Yet it continued, often quite successfully, to play the politics of nationalism and to demonize many who had a different vision of the national good and a more inclusive vision of a shared nationalism and common good.

September 12, 2013


Monday, September 9, 2013

Rodney Moncur's Struggles and Challenges

Adrian Gibson: Activist Rodney Moncur Tells Of His Struggles And Challenges


OUR NATION’S most outspoken Justice of the Peace, well-known political and social activist Rodney Moncur told me in an interview that he is struggling to survive and facing his own challenges even while fighting to assist so many of the poor, downtrodden and victims of seeming injustice. In what was initiated on Facebook and later resulted in an interview, Mr Moncur requested my assistance in bringing his personal causes to the fore. Rodney Moncur and I have been friends for a number of years and so I was happy to oblige him.
Over the years, I have developed a great respect for Mr Moncur, who has demonstrated that he is a man of his word, that he is a man of the people and that—regardless of the criticisms—he would fight tooth and nail for a cause that he believes in, even to his own detriment. I respect that. Moncur is an encapsulation of the saying if “one doesn’t stand for something, they would fall for anything” and so he takes various stands to express his approval or discontent with matters that the average citizen might ordinarily shy away from. He has made his political advocacy and public affairs campaigns an intimidating brand where, when one hears that Rodney Moncur has mobilized and is coming, it engenders a deep fear of public embarrassment/exposure as he takes no prisoners and does not mind if—to attain justice and a meaningful end—one refers to him as “crazy” or a “loose cannon.”
The nation’s foremost political/social activist has also kept up with the changing times. Unlike so many others in his age grouping who sit on the sidelines of social media, Moncur has taken a keen interest in social and digital media, developing what has become one of the biggest social media brands online today, with 5000 friends and 4000 followers on Facebook and throngs of Twitter followers who hang onto his every post or tweet (whether to praise him or vociferously criticise his statements). On any given day, Moncur has a slew of “breaking news” stories on his Facebook account, many times before traditional media outlets. However, whilst his Negro News Network (NNN)—as he calls it—has grown by leaps and bounds, the Justice of the Peace continues to face everyday struggles financially, “with the police” and in resolving personal matters even while seeking to march with a view to helping others. In disseminating his message, Mr Moncur merges his understanding of public relations via social media by also embracing traditional media outlets.
Over the period that I have known Mr Moncur, I have discovered that he is an avid reader and that he fully understands the law, so much so that some lawyers seek him out for clarity on certain points of law. Relative to any happening in the Bahamas over the last 40-plus years, Mr Moncur is a walking encyclopaedia who either has intricate knowledge of or a working understanding of the same, with copies of the reports of various Commissions, government undertakings, legislation and so on.
“I am struggling by the grace of God, hoping that if I can sell a piece of property I own, that what I owe to Royal Bank (of Canada) and Scotia would be paid off. I owe Royal Bank and Scotia about $20,000, more or less. I have a serious obligation to pay because both banking institutions have been very tolerant of my inability to pay,” Mr Moncur said.
“How I make a living? Well, I have a JP office open, where I provide community services,” he explained. “In addition to that, I’m a court process server, I do title research and I’m a cab driver. I’m trying to raise money to paint my taxi and bring it back on the streets. I had a mechanical issue and, thank God, that that has been resolved. However, the man I have chosen to do the painting of the entire vehicle told me that it would cost $1,500. At this stage, the vehicle is not licensed as I have one or two other issues to be resolved with it, the first being to bring it to the point that it will pass an inspection. It’s a very good vehicle, but it needs a face lift in order to provide the public and the tourism community with a good, clean vehicle and reliable services.”
On May 8th of this year, Mr Moncur’s Black Village home was destroyed by fire. According to him, the incident occurred in the “wee hours of the morning.”
On April 4th, Mr Moncur was arraigned on a single charge of committing a grossly indecent act, a hybrid offence contrary to section 490 of the Penal Code. It is claimed that between March 1 and March 29, he “intentionally and unlawfully” published a photograph on Facebook of the corpse of Jamie Smith, who died in police custody. At that time, Mr Moncur opted to be tried by a jury in the Supreme Court rather than a Magistrate, and was granted $7,500 bail, which two lady friends posted for him the following day after he had spent a night at Fox Hill Prison and enjoyed what he referred to as the best sleep he had had in a long time. He was initially told that a Voluntary Bill of Indictment would be served on him on May 10 to fast-track the case to the Supreme Court for trial. However, during his follow-up appearance with then Deputy Chief Magistrate Carolita Bethell, he was told that the Attorney General’s Office had decided to have a preliminary inquiry in Magistrate Court No 2 before Magistrate Constance Delancey.
In last week’s court appearance, Mr Moncur claimed that the police had “burned down his house.” He vehemently stated that one must note that his house was burnt down two days before his May 10th court appearance.
What is notable is that while Mr Moncur’s alleged offence only carries a fine of $150 if convicted, his bail was set at a whopping $7,500!
Relative to the fire that destroyed his house, the former DNA candidate for Bain and Grant’s Town stated:
“I had provided suspects to the police and the police have not informed me of their investigations. The Commissioner of Police (Ellison Greenslade) seems to ensure that I am not informed! How is it that the nation’s leading political activist and a JP’s home could be destroyed by fire and the policing agencies are not interested in concluding how it happened? My home was firebombed and had my wife and I been sleeping there, we would’ve been killed or seriously injured.”
“I am a patriotic, loving citizen. I believe you get good government by observing it and to the extent that it becomes necessary, providing critical support and—if need be—get placards and take to the streets peacefully but forcefully, without destruction to property or harm to fellow citizens or strangers. I have adopted the philosophy of political mobilization and demonstrations. Living in the inner city leaves one, from time to time, exposed to the political, social and economic injustices that people suffer. When people bring such injustices to my attention, I feel forced to take a solemn stand against oppression, corruption and injustice. As a JP, I have a greater responsibility to maintain peace and make sure that the authorities are not abusing the rights of citizens whilst assisting or maintaining law and order. I’m one of Her Majesty’s JPs for New Providence, Paradise Island and Arawak Cay and so when any injustices come to my attention, I sit down and write letters of complaint to the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Chief Justice. That’s what I do. Citizens come and complain to me about various injustices and, in my capacity as a JP, I write letters to various branches of the state. There are powerful forces who, from time to time, cannot take it.” he said.
“Recently,” he continued, “Rupert Roberts (owner of Super Value food store chain) complained to me about $70,000 that was stolen. He told me of his belief that some of the police may have gotten to the robber first and taken the monies, sharing it among themselves. Mr Roberts felt that he could find no resolution and so I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and the PM replied to my letter. I take the same action if a poor Negro male comes to my office complaining about police threats against his life and so forth.”
Asked about his outlook on his court case, Mr Moncur replied:
“We’re seeing a powerful philosophy of gangsterism, Nazism, Gestapoism and Ton-Ton Macoute-ism as was being practised in Haiti now being carried out in our country. In the last five months, I have been subjected to gangsterism with the destruction of my home and with these charges levied against me. On three occasions now, the leading investigator has failed to appear in court to give evidence against me—on three occasions! This is justice being stabbed in its vital parts! It is an undermining of justice and whenever justice is undermined, anarchy and chaos will come to bear in one’s nation and we see a manifestation of this now with the high levels of crime and retaliatory killings in our society, because people have lost confidence in the administration of justice.
It was his opinion that it has “come about due to political gangsterism. Adolf Hitler was a criminal who got state power and used the law to murder and slaughter six million Jews and others of God’s people.”
He said Bahamians must be careful of who takes control of the state’s machinery.
“Relative to my case, a defendant should never acquiesce to a court dismissing charges against him, he must insist that the court forces a prosecution witness to bring his testimony under the penalty that they would be incarcerated. This is so to clear one’s name, particularly if innocent” he said.
According to Mr Moncur, he got his house “in February, 2000 under the FNM’s administration whilst in 2013 the house was destroyed under the PLP’s administration.”
Speaking about the fire, that consumed his house and many of his possessions, he said:
“I have had no sympathy from the government. My wife and I have committed no crime that would call for my house being destroyed by fire. At age 56, it has placed me at a great disadvantage. At this age, if I don’t own my own home at least I should be coming to the end of a mortgage. I have no house for me and my wife to call our own, independent from a house that my adult sons live in. No citizen should be subjected to arson. When I examine what took place and how the Prime Minister and Attorney General have not compelled the Commissioner of Police to move, I feel terrible. I didn’t want to live among them ya know. They have large, palatial homes. I’m not jealous of them. I was so happy with my five-room clapboard house in Black Village. But, even that was taken away from me and now everyone is pretending like this criminal act wasn’t committed against me.”
“You will also notice that no institution has condemned the burning down of my home. No member of the church has condemned it. My party—the DNA—has not condemned it. The Official Opposition—FNM—hasn’t condemned it. And, quietly, the governing party’s leaders are giggling, they are laughing over my great calamity. But, I gave no one any reason to burn me out. So, what must I conclude?” an emotional Mr Moncur asked.
“As it stands, the Commissioner of Police has levied charges in the courts against me. He doesn’t answer any of my calls and none of his senior officers do. As a citizen, am I not entitled to know where the police are in their investigations into the fire that destroyed my home?” he asked.
In reflecting over his years of political and social activism in the past juxtaposed to today, Mr Moncur said:
“When I think over my 40 years of political activism in the Bahamas, I can say that Pindling (former Prime Minister) never destroyed anything belonging to me and I fought Pindling left, right and centre so much so that Pindling had me charged—along with current Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Philip Miller—with sedition. We went on trial on the 15th, 16th and 17th of April, 1985. I was charged with three counts and he was charged with two. We were represented by the late Sir Kendal Isaacs and retired Supreme Court Justice Jeanne Thompson and we were unanimously acquitted of all the charges. In those days of intense political battles with Pindling, I never felt that Pindling would kill me or burn down my house. And I lived long enough to get a little wooden house. My wife and I worked to maintain the mortgage but during this administration’s term in office, it was destroyed and it seems like nothing will come of it. That’s dangerous and these kinds of acts, if a man isn’t praying, could compel him to lead a revolution. Bahamians should be able to express their political views and there should be no form of gangsterism inflicted on that citizen either by harming them physically, burning down their house or threatening their jobs.”
When speaking about his activism over the years and his future outlook, Mr Moncur said:
“As long as I live, whichever party comes to power, I will turn my sights on that party and I don’t care which political party it is. I’m always willing to give critical support and to picket if necessary. When Pindling was in power, we criticised. When (PM Hubert) Ingraham was in power, whenever we felt that his government wasn’t doing things in the interest of the Bahamian people, we criticized them and agitated. And, we will also criticize Christie. Nothing ever happened to me under Ingraham. In fact, the more I criticized Ingraham, the more he appeared to love me. I never believed Ingraham would tolerate any act of gangsterism being carried out against me and my house would’ve never been burnt down. In fact, under Ingraham, I got the damn house!”
As I listened to Mr Moncur talk about the three Prime Ministers that the country has had so far, I asked him who he felt was the Bahamas’ best Prime Minister thus far. He responded:
“Ingraham! He brought in a new culture to the country. He helped to cement the freedom of the press by opening the airwaves. He didn’t go as far as he could have, but we saw plenty radio stations opening up and Bahamians were no longer afraid to express their views. With all these stations, it made it easier to bring a government down. That was a major feather in his cap. However, I didn’t like that he sold Batelco (BTC). I think that that is his greatest political sin. But, Ingraham loved his people, he especially loved poor black people.”
Mr Moncur said that he is “looking forward” to his court case, which was adjourned to October 4th.
“You have to understand what the police did to me. They created the illusion that I did a grossly indecent act, which could suggest sexual impropriety. It was also designed to intimidate the public, especially Facebook users,” he said.
Asked why he allows certain disparaging comments about himself by readers to remain on his Facebook page, he said: “It is free speech. I am grateful that people come to read and I only delete comments or block a person if they get too personal. I don’t mind if they call me stupid or whatever. I know there are many persons who would wish to shut my page down. I’m very happy that I have a very lively page and I try to be as accurate and fair as possible. It’s fun, I like it! I rely on people as much as possible and hope that they are honest in their tips to me. If I had transportation, you would see even more reporting. Many times, newspaper folks wake up and check my page, I make their work easier.”
In my opinion, Rodney Moncur is an overlooked national figure who genuinely believes in the greatness of his country and who has served nobly in whatever capacity he has found himself.
September 09, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Philip Galanis on the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) 60th anniversary - (Part - 2)

A response to Philip Galanis On ‘The PLP at 60’, pt. 2


This is the second part of my response to a recent column by Philip Galanis in which he describes the PLP as “The Bahamas’ first and some would argue only nationalist party”, and proceeds to list some “accomplishments” of the PLP.

Efforts at making propaganda fact 

Galanis lifts a list of accomplishments from some PLP election propaganda sheet which even the PLP leadership must not believe and he attributes them to the Perry Christie government between 2002 and 2007.  Only a blind sycophant could give any credence to the list.

Galanis’ rose-tinted glasses do not admit failure by his political party.  He claims that the first Christie government attracted some $17 billion in foreign direct investment, some $2.5 billion of which became tangible or real.  Attracting investment that is not real is a most peculiar concept.  It is more peculiar, in fact, than Galanis’ failure to accept that the five-phased development of Atlantis was approved by the FNM in its first term in office and is an FNM accomplishment.

Galanis claims Baha Mar as a Christie government accomplishment without acknowledging that the agreement signed by Christie’s government (with U.S. partners and financiers) faltered and was rendered void, and that a new agreement (with Chinese partners and financiers) had to be negotiated by the FNM government after 2007.

Galanis claims that the Christie government created 22,000 jobs between 2002 and 2007, about half the number created by the previous FNM government.  He forgot to say that the jobs created during the PLP’s term in office were overwhelmingly created on projects left in train by the FNM – at Atlantis, in Abaco and in Exuma.

Indeed, in Exuma, it was just the ribbon-cutting that was left for the PLP to do at the Four Seasons.  When that operation faltered in 2006 it was left to the FNM returning to office in 2007 to find a new hotel owner and operator in Sandals.  If Galanis can find an anchor project undertaken in Rum Cay or in Eleuthera during Christie’s first term in office he should advise Bahamians where they might find them.

Galanis is silent on Grand Bahama where the FNM attracted Hutchison Whampoa to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the development of the Transshipment Port, in redeveloping the Grand Bahama International Airport, and in the construction of the Our Lucaya Hotel.

Also on the FNM’s watch mega ship care and repair was developed in Grand Bahama, the Pelican Bay resort was constructed and new investment and technology was introduced into the island’s oil storage and transshipment facilities.  Christie’s legacy in Grand Bahama continues to be the closure of the Royal Oasis Hotel following the 2005 hurricane, a resort he was proud to open with the police band in tow, weeks after coming to office for the first time in 2002.

As Galanis seeks to give credit for development in The Bahamas he would do better to glance through the pages of the 40th Anniversary of Independence book assembled by Jones Publications.  The book records, among other things, the infrastructural developments of the past 40 years of independence.  The pictorial representation is incomplete but still if one were to stamp PLP or FNM on the lasting permanent improvements in our infrastructure they would overwhelmingly be stamped FNM.

Nationalists who promote the wellbeing and glory of one’s own fundamental values 

In three non-consecutive terms in office the FNM shaped the infrastructural landscape of our country: the new town centers in South Beach, Carmichael Road and Elizabeth Estates; the new government ministry complexes – education, health, customs headquarters, new courts in New Providence.   Then there are the Judicial Complex, Police Headquarters, and new C. A. Smith government administrative complex in Grand Bahama.

The new taxi call-up system at Prince George Dock and the hair-braiders’ pavilion also at the Prince George Wharf, the National Art Gallery and the Junkanoo Expo are all FNM accomplishments as are the extension and or upgrade of electricity, telephone and water services throughout the Family Islands, new community health clinics on eight Family Islands including Grand Bahama, Bimini, Abaco, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island and San Salvador and another in South Beach, New Providence; new schools, primary and secondary, in New Providence and also in Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Long Island, and expansion of other existing schools around the country.  A new airport terminal building and runway were constructed at San Salvador and the airport at Rock Sound, Eleuthera was acquired, the runway resurfaced and a new terminal building constructed.

A new international sea port, the new airport terminal building in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, the new government administration complex and the new community hospital nearing completion in central Abaco were all FNM accomplishments.  And the FNM dredged and deepened Nassau Harbour (over the objections of the PLP), built the new Nassau straw market, constructed new magistrates courts and acquired and began restoration of a new judicial complex in Nassau; commenced the three-phased redevelopment of LPIA opening the new U.S. Departure terminal and leaving the International Arrival Terminal to be opened weeks following the 2012 general election.

The new library and communications center at COB was realized by the FNM as were the new national stadium, the 20-corridor-plus New Providence roads and utility upgrade project and the new four-lane Airport Gateway Project.  The new adolescent and child care facility at Sandilands Hospital, the new emergency and operating theater wing at Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama; the new Critical Care Block now under construction at Princess Margaret Hospital, and new community hospitals under construction in Exuma are all FNM accomplishments.  The list is unending.

Social conscience in government

Socially the FNM has been responsible for fulfilling the PLP’s unfulfilled promise in virtually every sector of Bahamian life.

Since 1992 the FNM freed the airwaves and licensed private radio broadcasts, made access to cable television possible and introduced live T.V. coverage of meetings of Parliament from gavel to gavel.  The FNM introduced elected local government in its second term in office – a promise first made by the PLP in the 1950s while in opposition and reiterated again in 1968 as government but never brought to fruition.

The FNM privatized BTC and liberalized the communications sector.

The FNM also increased old age pensions, established a resident Court of Appeal and appointed Bahamians as justices in that court for the first time. They established the Industrial Tribunal, introduced minimum wage, introduced sick leave and enhanced maternity leave benefits, established minimum standards and conditions of employment, reduced the work week from 48 to 40 hours, increased the school leaving age from 14 to 16, removed discrimination from our inheritance laws and provided in law that all children, regardless of the marital status of their parents, have two parents. And the FNM created the Eugene Dupuch Law School where Galanis’ wife is proud to serve as principal.

The FNM also established the UWI Medical School faculty in The Bahamas, introduced unemployment benefits, introduced a prescription drug benefit and enacted a Freedom of Information Act. It is only left for the PLP to sign the appointed day notice to bring the act into force.

The FNM appointed the first Bahamian directors of Legal Affairs and of Public Works since independence, appointed the first women to the Bahamas Cabinet since independence, Doris Johnson having been dismissed prior to 1973. The FNM was also responsible for the appointment of the first female chief justice, the first female president of the Court of Appeal, the first female speaker of the House of Assembly, and since independence, the first female president of the Senate. In its second term in office the FNM caused 50 percent of the Senate to be comprised of women.

Galanis seems to believe that the PLP has a legacy in public housing. In reality the Pindling PLP government struggled to complete housing developments under development by the UBP government in Yellow Elder and Big Pond.

It was not until 1982 and the appointment of a young Hubert Ingraham to Cabinet that the PLP undertook new government housing projects – at Elizabeth Estates, Flamingo Gardens, Nassau Village and Palm Tree Estates in New Providence, and housing estates were undertaken in Freeport and in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama and in Cooper’s Town, Abaco. Ingraham was dismissed from Cabinet two years later and the new government housing initiative stalled. It did not resume until after the FNM’s 1992 election victory after which new housing projects were undertaken at Millennium, Jubilee, and Emerald Gardens. The pace was improved under the first Christie-led government but the overall poor standard of construction of that government’s housing program dramatically curtailed its benefits. 

Unfinished agendas 

Yes, Galanis, there is an unfinished agenda for development in our country, but it is the FNM that has such an agenda. It is an agenda of the ‘good’ who, having been too young to be a part of the first revolution and having been forced out of the ruling party, became intent on their watch after 1992 on realizing the new long-awaited second revolution which they sought to achieve through improved social policies, enhanced economic opportunities, broadened Bahamian ownership in the economy and open, transparent and accountable government. 

The agenda of the PLP and in particular of this Christie led-PLP government is an unfinished agenda of obtaining privileges and benefits for a select few. It is an unfinished agenda that suggests that holding up those heroes of the first revolution imperfect – though they be – is sufficient. 

That is why Perry Christie could travel to Washington D.C., and talk about social justice on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech but remain silent on the shameful mismanagement of an investigation into alleged abuse in a Bahamas government detention center at home.

Yes, Galanis, the PLP is in dire need of new causes to champion. They can begin by recognizing the right of the opposition to a voice in Parliament. They can begin by championing open, honest accountability and transparent government.

They can begin by committing themselves to fiscal restraint, abandoning wasteful expenditure on useless or unnecessary expensive foreign travel, and on the granting of government contracts to politically-connected but unqualified contractors.

They can begin to act to create real jobs. They can begin by stopping the politicization of crime. They can begin by acting so as to bring honor to our name internationally.

Finally, in the spirit of championing causes and promoting transparency, Galanis might begin by telling the Bahamian people why he was denied his party’s nomination to return to the House of Assembly and why, following so promising a career start, he elected to leave the engagement of the renowned accounting firm which had trained and groomed him for leadership.

September 07, 2013


Philip Galanis on the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) 60th anniversary - (Part - 1)>>>