Remarks by Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham Party Leader FNM Inagua Rally Wednesday 2 May, 2012
Good Evening Inagua, Colour Red is very happy to be in Inagua tonight. We have spent the day in MICAL visiting with residents in Crooked Island, Acklins and Mayaguana. Last evening Colour Red was in Central Andros.
All are excited. They are fired up and ready to join the red wave that has covered all of the Family Islands. I told them I was coming to Inagua to visit with some old friends and to welcome some new ones who have determined to join us this time and help us make history by voting for Sydney Collie and making him the MP for MICAL on Monday 7th May.
Inagua, MICAL bought the bag of promises being sold by that other Party on two successive occasions and got nothing for its effort. In fact, we almost lost Mayaguana as a result. Had the wheeler dealers in that other Party gotten their way, more than 10,000 acres of Mayaguana would be under foreign control today with minimum benefit coming to the Bahamian people. We put an end to that and returned some 6,000 of those acres back to the Bahamian Crown Land bank.
You will have had the opportunity to look at our Manifesto 2012 and to compare it with that other Party’s election platform. True to form, you will have found reasoned, planned commitments set out in Manifesto 2012. We take our responsibility to you, the Bahamian people, seriously.
The same cannot be said for that other Party. They have made it their trademarks to overpromise and under-deliver. Their platform is a book filled with their Leader’s dreams and empty promises. No one should rely on them. Experience has proven to all; even to many in their own Party, that a promise from Perry can only lead to “Delivery Failed”! They failed to deliver on most of their promises in their single term in office; now they are promising to set in motion a truck load of new initiatives in their first 100 days if returned to office. Don’t be fooled – their book of dreams is nothing more than fool’s gold; it will all tarnish.
Indeed, it would tarnish before the completion of those fabled first 100 days of promised action. And that is even when we take into account that their promises for the first 100 days don’t actually set out any concrete action. Instead, it sets out what they will plan and or initiate or set in motion. I have only one question for that group: When do you propose to actually do something? But we all have the answer, don’t we? Never! They are the Party of Never Ready and Late Again.
You know firsthand of which I speak, because your current MP has been most neglectful. Like most of that Gold Rush crew he is long on talk, but small on action. I use to marvel that he would get up in the House and say all kinds of things about what he had done or was going to do. The only problem is that it was all talk and little action. Remember all his big talk about hurricane relief some years ago? That other side talked about your new clinic forever. They botched up the job so we had to make it right. They either do-nothing or buss-up whatever they get their incompetent and greedy hands on.
If you want more talk, vote for him. But if you want action and to be a part of a Delivery Team, vote for Sydney Collie, vote FNM. This is my last election, Inagua. Come go with me. That other side will forget you. I will forget you not!
If you examine their Book of Promises you will discover nary an original or new idea. They have repackaged their old unfulfilled promises and decorated those with some ideas borrowed from us. You know how some people take the gift you give them for Christmas and repackage them because they forgot to go shopping. Well, this is exactly what most of the PLP platform looks like.
It must pain their supporters in these farthest reaches of our island chain that in their 2012 Book of Promises they say that they will look into the harvesting of cascarilla bark which is used in the creation of Campari. Well, they promised this back in 2002! Could they possibly believe that the people of MICAL have not noticed that they did absolutely nothing to even try and put such a programme in place during 5 long years in office between 2002 and 2007?
Believe you me; they are the same PLP, same empty promises. They are not serious. They are trifling with you and they’re trifling with the future of our country. The sensible people of The Bahamas put them out after one disappointing term in office; Mayaguana and Crooked Island are coming with me this time; Acklins-maybe. I ask you to join in the tidal wave of Red covering our country; seal the deal for better, come with me Inagua and help us keep them out!
Remember Perry’s Law: The more he promises, the less he’ll deliver. I was happy just last month to visit you on the happy occasion of the opening of the new modern NIB Community Health Clinic. Regrettably, it was a poorly managed project set in train back in 2005 but which was so badly managed that it cost NIB some $3.5 million – almost 100% more than the Ministry of Works said it should cost back in 2005. The development of community health clinics around the country is only one of the many important social development programmes of the National Insurance Board.
We are offering Sidney Collie as our candidate for election to the House of Assembly. He is a native son of MICAL; but unlike your present MP, he will look after your interest. He will be a representative of the ilk of your last FNM MP Mr. Vernon Symonette who served the nation with dignity and dedication as Speaker of the House of Assembly. Like Vernon, Sidney will make you proud.
Sidney Collie comes to you as a part of a delivery team. We take our jobs seriously. We are not in this for ourselves; we are here to make life better for all Bahamians. Take it from me – my record is long; it is public and I never seek to run from it. My record is one of deliverance.
Sidney is a part of an energetic team that has a good mixture of tried and tested experience candidates, professionals with specialists skills in the law, medicine, finance, agriculture, and business and youthful energy filled with innovative ideas. All are committed to continue our important work of making life better for you.
Sidney has served our Party and our Bahamian people in the House of Assembly and in the Senate. He is currently our non-resident Ambassador to Caricom where he has gained the respect of the region. He has my full confidence, and he has the full confidence of our Party. Now it is up to you to make him the next Member of Parliament from this constituency. Your current MP and his Party has taken you for granted for ten long years. He spent most of his time in the House looking after his own interests.
Did he use his time to come to see you, to attend to your needs, to your community’s needs and to see after your development? Unfortunately, no, he did none of that! He has spent his time looking after himself and seeking out opportunities for himself. You need an MP who will work for you! And Sidney is that man. It’s time that you had a Member of Parliament who puts your needs and your interests, your dreams and your aspiration in the forefront of his agenda.
Sidney is fired up about programmes like SelfStarter and Jump Start, put in place by the FNM Government since 2007, to provide essential seed funding to independent entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Inagua Some 48 individuals on this island have been engaged in the 52 week National Jobs Readiness and Skills Training Programme. Participants have been placed in a cross section of private businesses and public corporations.
4,000 Bahamians in Nassau, in Grand Bahama, and the Family Islands are participating in the programme receiving training and work experience which could land them permanent jobs and which will definitely better prepare them to find and qualify for jobs in the economy. I want to encourage young people to take advantage of all the programmes the Government has developed to give talented Bahamians a “leg up” so to speak. Make the programmes work for you.
Inagua: Putting Bahamians First is a duty I have sworn to uphold each time I placed my hand on the Bible and promised to abide by the constitution and protect the interests of Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
That other Party is good at framing glib slogans to try and catch people’s imaginations. They also have a long record of disappointing those who buy into their slogans. In this campaign they believe in Bahamians and promise to invest in Bahamians. Regrettably, they’re only slogans.
When given the opportunity to believe in Bahamians and to invest in Bahamian between 2002 and 2007 they chose otherwise. They cancelled the government subsidy of ½ interest payable on government guaranteed educational loans introduced by the FNM; they failed to build a single new school or library. Inagua deserves more than empty PLP promises and slogans.
Fellow Bahamians: After a number of years during which you were speared the wrath of summer hurricanes you have been visited by terrible storms in recent time, most dramatically when Hurricane Ike made a direct strike on this island. Notwithstanding the considerable damage to property, I think we were very fortunate to have escaped with no serious injury. I know that the experience would have brought you a new appreciation for the men and women of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force who are invaluable parts of our emergency first responder team. And very personally, you will know the benefit of our having established a Defence Force base here in Inagua. As you know the new Base at Ragged Island is now virtually complete.
Located here, in the far southern reaches of our island chain, you also appreciate the important work of the Defence Force in protecting our marine borders, and acting to stop illegal contraband including narcotic drugs and guns, poaching and illegal immigration. As a part of our National Security Strategic Plan, we will dredge the harbour at the Inagua Defence Force base to allow for larger vessels. Inagua is a critical part of our forward-positioning of various Defence Force assets. We plan also to construct a facility here in Inagua to store hurricane relief supplies for the Southern Bahamas. You are also a critical part of our hurricane relief and recovery plans.
We also plan to develop a base in Grand Bahama, and sub-bases in Abaco and Exuma.
Those of you who have had the opportunity to review Manifesto 2012 which is now available on line as well as in printed form; will see that my Government has given and continues to give priority attention to beefing up our ability to confront these ills on all fronts.
The FNM’s decision to transform the Royal Bahamas Defence Force was done with great deliberation and plenty hard thinking. It will be the largest, boldest, and most wide-scale boost of the Force in its entire year history.
We undertook extensive studies on the organization and strength of the Defence Force. We appointed a group of eight former and serving Defence Force Commanders and Captains to advise on what was required in terms of vessels and manpower.
The Experts Committee provided advice on the correct number of vessels and the manpower levels required for the Force to adequately fulfill its mandate to patrol our waters and to enforce our laws with respect to fisheries, legal entry and trade.
Today’s Force strength is 1164. We want to take it to 1,400 men. We have calculated that over the next five years approximately 40 marines may leave the Force for a variety of reasons. This will require that we recruit more than 235 additional personnel in order to achieve and maintain Force strength of 1,400 marine.
The professional, reasoned advice we received helped us to form and make our determinations on recruitment and the acquisition of vessels. It also informed our decision to create a Defence Force Reserve.
With regard to protecting our seas and resources, those who oppose us simply adjusted some of our numbers upwards and proclaimed it their plan. This from the Never-Ready Government that over a five-year term in office bought a single aircraft, which was completely unsuitable for patrol exercises, and not a single vessel to outfit the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. Now he says he will do more than we project. This from a Never-Ready Government which took almost 4 years to appoint a Commodore of the Defence Force.
Inagua: The FNM is a big tent party; we take in all who want better for The Bahamas. I say to all good thinking and loyal Inaguans, come with me, and support my Party the FNM; we have and keep your interest at heart. That is why not a single public servant was disengaged as a result of the global economic downturn. That is why, notwithstanding the impact of the global economic recession upon our economy, we, the FNM Government, increased social service assistance, expanded NIB benefit programmes and engaged additional Policemen, Defence Force marines, immigration and customs officers. Those others are busy trying to deflect attention from their weak leader; trying desperately to convince the Bahamian population that this election is not about leadership. You know better.
Elections in difficult economic times demand that leadership be a principal issue. These are times for strong and decisive leadership; leadership that will make the tough choices. This is no time for wavering and waffling. This is no time for talk and more talk. This is a time for action.
I offer you on behalf of the proven leadership of the Free National Movement. I offer you accountable and transparent government. I offer you clean hands. I pledge again to you a Government that will deliver. We believe that Inagua will benefit from The Heritage Tourism Initiative which will create jobs and boost your economy.
As the site of an important Inagua National Park and home to the largest flock of Flamingoes, Inagua stands to benefit from this initiative which will facilitate the upgrade of the infrastructure needed to enhance heritage sites and the heritage experience that residents and tourists are able to enjoy during such visits. This initiative will encourage both Bahamian and international tourist to visit and help make their travel here easier. It is ripe with opportunities for residents to partner with the Bahamas National Trust in developing accommodations for visitors to the Park. The most revered National Trust guides and park wardens hail from Inagua so the blueprint already exists. Clearly there are opportunities for employment as tour guides that will be of interest to young people here in Inagua.
It is the FNM that started the concept of promoting the various Islands of The Bahamas as unique destinations. We will continue to do so and this will include Inagua. We also have plans that will make it easier for passengers around the world to more easily book flights straight through to the Family Islands. We also want to make it easier for school children from the Capital to travel to Inagua and other Family Islands to see for themselves important historic and cultural sites. Inagua is the last outpost of commercially produced salt in The Bahamas. The salt industry runs through most of our existence yet only the smallest number of Bahamian school children have had the opportunity to see the white mountains of salt, to see the salt pans rich with the pink shrimp, a major food source for the flamingoes contributing to their rich pink colour. We also have plans to see how The Bahamas can take greater advantage of mariculture and aquaculture, both of which have to do with the cultivation of various marine life for food and other purposes.
Moreover, how might some of the salt pans be utilized in ecotourism such as salt baths, which the world over have been known for medicinal and healing purposes. I know that some people have been talking for a number of years, how some of the salt plans can be added for tourism and health purposes that will add value to the vital salt industry here. Seeing and understanding these things help build national pride and respect for all things Bahamian.
It is the FNM that will make sure that much of the best kept secret of Inagua is shared with more Bahamians and visitors who will come to see the richness of your natural and historical heritage. You are among a select number of Family Islands to have been the birthplace of a Governor General. We need to showcase more of your rich history.
Inagua: FNMs: It is the FNM that will always look after the interest of the Family Islands. That is why we introduced Local Government; expanded the electricity and telephone infrastructure, made access to cable TV possible, constructed modern community health clinics close to Family Island population centres, undertook large scale infrastructural upgrades around the country: roads, bridges, docks, ports, schools all receiving focused attention, many after long years of neglect by other administrations. We are reconstructing and paving your roads, some for the first time ever at a cost of $3.6 million. This is the second time that I have undertaken the upgrade of your roads. We met them in terrible condition in 1992 and we fixed them. The job was not as well done as we had expected. This time we have contracted Mr. Symonette out of Eleuthera and we are satisfied that he will do a good job for you so that we do not have to revisit this for many years to come.
We also provided Local Government with some $200,000 to facilitate a number of small projects important to the life of your residents. These projects include the clearing and renovation of your drainage system, the repair and reconstruction of seawalls, the replacement of three public cabanas, improvements to the Over-the-Hill Park, the reconstruction of Market Place including the renovation of public restrooms, repairs to the Lighthouse, the construction of Heroes’ Park and the cleaning and maintenance of the historic cemetery which is no longer in use.
Since 2007 we caused BEC to assume responsibility for the energy grid on this island resulting in a 30% increase in electricity production on this island. And that is why we have refocused attention on regularizing the occupation and accelerating consideration of new applications by Bahamians for Crown land. Since 2007 alone, some 27 applications have been approved for residents of Inagua.
Those others made plans to sell off acres and acres of Bahamian land to foreign interest to build, tax free, luxury homes for international persons. We believe that the first call on Crown Land must be for the benefit of Bahamians. We have no objection to the long lease and sale of Crown Lands to foreign parties if it is for the development of productive economic activity that will employ Bahamians and bring true development to our people. Development of a hotel, a manufacturing plant, an assembly facility, these are developments to be encouraged and promoted and assisted but not building luxury homes tax The FNM always places the highest priority on education – on expanding facilities, improving tuition materials, increasing the numbers of teachers and providing an unprecedented number of scholarships.
I want to confirm that we have completed the planning for the construction of a new school for Inagua replacing the one so badly damaged by the Hurricane Ike that it had to be abandoned. The school will have 6 standard classrooms and four specialists’ labs – one each for home economics, woodwork, sewing and science, a library and a computer classroom and then the regular administrative block and restroom facilities for students. The renovation of a single story building at the back of the school will permit it to be converted into art and music classrooms. And the school will have covered walkways. The school construction project has been budgeted at a cost of some $6.8 million. I give you my undertaking that the school will be built early in our next term in office. When the FNM promise you can believe it because the FNM DELIVERS!
We have also ensured that our teachers are properly equipped with tuition materials so that no child is disadvantaged in the classroom.
The Government has also agreed to pay 80 per cent of the health insurance premium for teachers in the Government operated school system; teachers will pay 20 per cent. This new benefit enters into effect with the new Budget on 1st. July of this year. In our next term we will build additional COB dormitory space in New Providence to accommodate family island students and we will provide rental stipends to needs tested students who cannot be accommodated in the dormitories. Those others lie when they tell you that they believe in young Bahamians. They believe only in helping themselves, their families and their friends.
Inagua: In transforming our country we cannot go with the smallness of vision and the weakness of leadership of the PLP. Not only will they take the country backwards; they lack the vision and the quality of leadership needed to move The Bahamas forward. But, this is not a fight any of us can go alone, we must band together. So tonight, sign up to be a volunteer, take a poster, tell your friends to go FNM and when you go to our website tonight, we’d be grateful if you would click the donate button and help us keep printing posters and making t-shirts and holding rallies.
Time is near. I ask all voters to pick up their cards as soon as possible and have information corrected on it if this is necessary. As we depart tonight FNMs, I ask you, come go with me and the FNM. Vote for Sidney; make him your next MP. He will look after your interest and he will make you proud. Inagua together, let us build a better Bahamas. Thank you, God bless The Bahamas, and good night.