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The PLP went to extraordinary lengths to have former Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder as the party's candidate in the 2010 Elizabeth by-election, bypassing other potential nominees, including the grandson of Sir Milo Butler, in order to fetch Pinder from overseas, parachuting him into a winnable seat just vacated by a PLP MP.
The party weathered claims of carpetbagging and poured financial, human and other resources into the by-election, eking out a narrow victory. Less than five years later, shy of three years in the Cabinet, Pinder demonstrated his ingratitude, forsaking the privilege of Cabinet membership and exiting for a lucrative pay package in a glaring conflict of interest.
Quite a number of PLPs, including those who worked hard for his 2010 win and those who saw some promise in him, are, too put it mildly, ticked-off. There are a number of similarities between Pinder and DNA chieftain Branville McCartney.
Pun intended, both McCartney and Pinder left for greener pastures before a full five-year term in Cabinet. With green as its primary color, McCartney left and launched his vanity party, in a political tantrum that created numerous reverberations. Pinder left for a green pasture some estimate as at least $500,000 a year or a million over two years and counting.
Both men are children of privilege, who demonstrated a lack of political fortitude or gravitas, unable to go the distance within their parties. In both men, their respective parties made the wrong choice of quickly advancing novices who were untested and proved really not to be party men, though Pinder has remained a PLP. Whether he will run again is another question.
It was just five years ago, almost to the day, January 19, 2010, when fledgling PLP candidate Ryan Pinder began a by-election rally address with words now clearly comical: "My party leader the Right Honorable Perry Gladstone Christie, the most productive, competent, effective and serious prime minister in the Caribbean since Sir Lynden Pindling."
Having now seen Christie up close and given how reportedly fed up Pinder is with Christie and the fact that he is reportedly an ally of Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, Pinder must now gasp when he recalls those words.
There are likely a number of words Pinder might use to describe Christie, though, "productive", "competent" and "effective" are likely not high on the list, and certainly not, "the most... serious prime minister in the Caribbean since Sir Lynden Pindling". It's extraordinary to watch how Pinder went from brown-nosing obsequiousness to cavalier dismissal of his party's leader.
The commentary by most observers on the Pinder departure had to do with his conflict of interest in accepting a lucrative offer from Deltec Bank, having served in Cabinet in general and specifically as minister of financial services.
Were Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle to leave Cabinet now and accept an offer with a company promoting foreign direct investment in The Bahamas, there would be justifiable concerns and worries of a conflict of interest. But it would seem bizarre if the claim was made that Rolle was being criticized for such a move because he is black.
In the context of the Rolle scenario consider this bizarre claim by a commentator in reference to Ryan Pinder's departure: "Another factor no one seems to have considered is that ministers serve at the pleasure of the prime minister, and can be shuffled or dismissed at any time. So why the national angst because Mr. Pinder chose to pick his own time of departure?"
No one really needs to consider this notion as it is so patently obvious. Further, Pinder was not shuffled or dismissed. Whenever a minister leaves without being dismissed it is big news as political colleagues and citizens are curious about the departure, especially as such departures are rare.
It isn't only that Pinder chose to leave. It is why and for what reasons which elicit curiosity. The commentator goes on to answer her question about the response to Pinder's departure.
"Is it because he was so much better at his job than his fellow ministers, or because he is white, and black people believe that white people aren't supposed to behave like that?"
Now consider had Khaalis Rolle been the one to depart and a writer potentially stating this bit of bizarre racial nonsense.
"Is it because he was so much better at his job than his fellow ministers, or because he is black, and white people believe that black people aren't supposed to behave like that?"
Bahamians, black or white, believe that Cabinet ministers should conduct themselves in a particular manner and adhere to a certain code of ethics, and refrain from conflicts of interest, whether the minister is white or black. Moreover, whether Pinder was better at his job or not than most or some of his fellow ministers is a debatable point.
What is troubling is the racial mindset that seeks to suggest that black Bahamians have a problem when it comes to how they think white people are supposed to behave. It suggests that Ryan Pinder's actions are not in question. The problem is with black people, who should get their minds right about whites.
The mindset appears to suggest that black people still adhere to the view that whites are superior to blacks, and that black people would be more alarmed at Pinder's departure because he is white, rather than with say a Khaalis Rolle departure, as he is a black man, and blacks would hold him to a lower standard of conduct than a white man.
A related commentary or restatement of this black inferiority, white superiority mindset supposedly resident in black people noted of Pinder's Cabinet departure: "So why all the outrage on the radio talk shows and beyond? Because there is a double standard in this country when it comes to white people. More is expected of them, and any misstep or fall from grace is viewed with far less tolerance.
"Had Mr. Pinder been black, would we be having this conversation? No."
The writer is dead wrong. Had Pinder been black we would have been having this conversation and certain white commentators would have piled on Pinder were he black, as they have piled on other black politicians in the past, while finding all manner of excuses for certain white politicians.
The view of the writer in question is laughable but not funny. Ryan Pinder did not fall from grace. He was given the extraordinary opportunity of serving in the Cabinet and decided to leave, among other reasons, to make a great deal more money,
Now we are being told by some that the criticism of him is unfair, precisely because he's white. This is the double standard of white privilege and exceptionalism that seeks to give a pass to certain white politicians while patronizing black people about what they are to think. It resembles a white supremacist attitude which seeks to play on a supposed black inferiority.
The writer also states: "Here is my personal take. Mr. Pinder is the victim of extreme prejudice, but not racism.
"...For the most part, white Bahamians have to stay under the radar and out of trouble because they feel as though they are not allowed to be more involved because they are all basically a bunch of redneck racists."
Ryan Pinder got elected to the House of Assembly twice mostly by black voters. He enjoyed warm support from many in the PLP. Most of his political colleagues are black. He didn't have to stay under any radar because people thought he was a redneck racist. He had a bright future in the PLP.
This idea that white Bahamians are "not allowed to be involved" is a bizarre expression of victimhood. It might mean for some whites that they must now play on an equal footing with black Bahamians and are no longer allowed their previous privilege and exceptionalism.
The writer's mindset and ignorance of demographics is concerning as she refers to Elizabeth as being in the "black belt". Elizabeth has never been considered a part of the traditional black belt, and the supposed "white belt" of eastern New Providence requires clarification.
The supposedly "traditional safe seat in the white belt of eastern New Providence" is mostly populated by upper-class black Bahamians. One can only infer the mindset that might produce this line of thinking.
It seems related to the mindset that quickly and giddily celebrated former U.S. Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin after a single speech at her party's nominating convention, and the quick put-down of the Democratic candidate Barack Obama.
Palin turned out to be a flake and a disaster and Obama turned out to be a leader of fine intellect, tremendous decency and civility, whether one agrees or disagrees with his policies or approves of his record. Some mindsets just continue to linger.
o firstname.lastname@example.org, www.bahamapundit.com.
Count your blessings -- name them one by one. Have you ever?
The big bad wolf keeps coming. So what do you do? Throw one blessing in his path, at a time. It will certainly slow him down. You see he cannot deal with blessings. He survives only on negatives.
The big bad wolf is dirty, nasty, despicable and more. He fumes at the mouth and spits hate all the time. There is a big bad wolf for every one of us. Many have been sent to untimely graves because they couldn't or refuse to paralyze this ugly monster. We feel him and make him more dangerous by feeding him a diet of hate and tit for tat.
Focusing on the negative while ignoring or downplaying the positive will certainly increase stress. If 10 things went well and one thing went wrong, most people will talk about that one thing when someone asks how your day was. Doing so can deflate your mood and make you question your abilities or value.
I go into self-pity many times. Yes I have those pity parties. I think I should be much further in life than where I am. And yes I blame some people out there for messing me up, spoiling my chances, talking bad about me, reporting negative things on me especially to my superiors. Yes, I have a hit list of all those architects of my stagnation.
In our society we have many women who believe that at 40 they should be married with children and so they avoid class reunions and friends who they believe are ahead of them in the way we measure success. Does anyone of us have enough to show for our time spent in this world?
How often I forget my heritage:
Product of the happiest family in the world from the greatest geographical area known in the world.
A graduate of Arthur's Town All Age School, St. John's College, University of the West Indies and Princeton.
Earning degrees of value.
Being privileged to have served in both church and state throughout The Bahamas and further afield.
Having friends who will go to war for me.
Being recipient of a super great family.
And it doesn't end there. I will continue to count my blessings. No big bad wolf can overcome any one of these. Each is a hurdle to him.
You have much to show for your life. Don't compare yourself. Simply appreciate your blessing -- it's peculiar to you.
To reduce your stress and improve your mood, focus on the positive. Think of what is going well in your life. Consider your relationships, career, work, health and fitness, personal or professional growth and spirituality. Where are you solid? When can you say with confidence "I'm somebody."
Focus on your specific gifts, strengths and successes. Write them down. Give yourself credit for being a good family member, a great parent, a good sibling, a great leader. Ask a friend to say what good they see in you. Add them to your list.
Think of the challenges you have overcome. What strengths help you to succeed? What has helped you to cope in the mess of life. Think of how you overcame the onslaught of a false friend. How you coped in a messy divorce. How your negotiation skills saved a deal you were fighting for. You must have an incident in your life where you have overcome some obstacle. You have a super human trait in something. Count them all.
Look for strengths in other people (not just their faults.) We tend to suffer from a selection bias. If we look for what's wrong in ourselves or other people we'll find lots of examples, so hunt for positives. Identify two strengths for each fault.
Keep a gratitude journal. Studies have found that writing down things for which we are grateful can improve sleep, reduce symptoms of illness and increase happiness in adults and children. Keep your entries short -- a simple sentence -- and make them personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more impact than focusing on things. List people who are impacting you for good; another hit list, now for good.
This is a wonderful time of the year to count your blessings and encourage your friends and children to do the same.
o Reverend Canon S. Sebastian Campbell is the rector at St. Gregory's Anglican Church.
BAHA Mar officials remain "hopeful" that an ongoing dispute between one of its hotels and the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union over gratuity payments will be "resolved" when the two parties meet in the Supreme Court this week.
Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn yesterday said the secrecy surrounding the entities behind $100 million in bad loans transferred from Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) to Bahamas Resolve Ltd. is "unacceptable", adding that the government has an obligation to inform the public of the identity of the parties.
Lightbourn told Guardian Business that it was "not asking too much" of the government to disclose not only the names of the entities or individuals to whom these loans were granted, but also the security they provided to receive the loans in the first place.
"Once you remove the assets from the protection of bank secrecy laws, they no longer have that protection. It's no longer a bank asset, it's now the people's asset and the people should be given the opportunity to see what the government is doing and what they're accepting liability for.
"When the government has accepted liability for $100 million worth of debt it seems like we should be entitled to full disclosure," said Lightbourn.
He raised similar concerns in the House of Assembly last week, taking the government to task over the bad loans and the government's response to the management of BOB. Partly in response to Lightbourn, Prime Minister Perry Christie told the House that "millions" had already been collected by Resolve and businesses had been resuscitated.
Christie announced in October that the government had created Bahamas Resolve to absorb $100 million of BOB's troubled loans in exchange for $100 million in promissory notes from the government, which was done in order to raise BOB's mandatory liquidity levels set by The Central Bank of The Bahamas.
Resolve has engaged accounting firm Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas) to collect the 13 loans comprising the $100 million sum.
"The country is having $100 million of debt thrown into its lap. We don't know the terms under which it was granted. I think the public is entitled to know what kind of shenanigans the government is getting into. When you assume that debt I would like to think that the public is entitled to know what kind of security was involved. It's not asking too much," said Lightbourn.
A week before the first reports are due for collection of the value-added tax (VAT), the Ministry of Finance has announced the formation of a VAT Appeal Commission, populated by a retired Supreme Court justice as chairman, a retired senior customs officer, a public accountant, and others, all to be named this week.
As the new tax takes hold, reports continue to surface of businesses engaging in practices that are at variance with the VAT laws and regulations. In some cases, fraud or intentional malfeasance may be suggested.
And in fact, just prior to announcing the formation of the commission, the ministry issued a warning to consumers about businesses displaying counterfeit certificates on their premises, advising that guilty parties could face fines of up to $50,000.
The release also advised that tax identification number (TIN) certificates issued by the VAT Department have the Bahamas Coat of Arms watermark while VAT certificates have a VAT Bahamas watermark. Merchants with TIN certificates cannot charge VAT, while merchants with VAT certificates are permitted to charge and collect the tax.
The VAT Appeal Commission will operate independently of the VAT Department and the Ministry of Finance, according to the release.
"If a VAT registrant is unhappy with any decision made by the VAT comptroller, they may lodge an appeal with the commission. An appellant who is aggrieved by a decision of the commission may appeal the decision, but on matters of law only, to the Supreme Court," the Ministry of Finance said.
"The timing of the appointment of the commission is critical at this juncture, as enforcement activities and rulings of the VAT Department become more entrenched."
The appointments are with effect from January 21, 2015.
Last week, it was announced that one of the three men accused of the home invasion and robbery of Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis and his wife had been granted bail.
The case is obviously high profile and also highly symbolic. Davis was serving as acting prime minister at the time; as such, the incident stood as a potent sign that violent crime had penetrated to the highest reaches of our society.
Everyone agrees that we have a serious problem with criminality in The Bahamas. We are not so unified, however, when it comes to the question of who to blame.
Broadly speaking, when it comes to the politics of crime, over the past several years, opposition parties have tended to blame the sitting administration, while governments have shown a tendency to place responsibility on the judiciary, in particular for the granting of bail to those accused of serious violent crimes like murder, rape and armed robbery.
The current Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration recently passed the Bail Amendment Act in an effort to "radically reduce" the number of cases in which accused persons can assert their matter was not tried within a reasonable period of time.
The new law requires judges to take witness safety into consideration when determining whether to grant bail. Yet so far this year, there have been 118 murders, compared to the 109 murders on record at this time last year. Many of these continue to be retaliation killings and many of the victims continue to be accused persons recently released on bail.
Before condemning the judiciary for being soft on accused persons, however, we should all keep in mind the reason bail is granted in most of these cases. It is precisely the phenomenon the new Bail Amendment Act seeks to address: the inordinately long period that individuals on remand must await their day in court.
The Davis matter is case in point: The armed robbery occurred in December 2013 and three suspects were detained soon after. Now, 12 months later, they remain untried, unconvicted, yet in custody. They are not scheduled to be tried for nearly another year.
Judges, in accordance with the constitution, are duty-bound to treat every individual who comes before them as innocent until proven guilty. The idea of innocent men and women spending two, three or sometimes four-plus years incarcerated is clearly intolerable.
And while the backlog of cases, which leads to such unreasonable delays in justice, is not totally the fault of the Office of the Attorney General, it is important to keep in mind that it was this current government that promised "Swift Justice". It was also this government that promised to dramatically increase the number of courts hearing criminal cases. These courts have been physically completed but are not yet functional.
The fact that neither promise has been achieved after more than two-and-a-half years of governance should give pause to politicians who seek to once again lay the full blame for crime at the feet of our judiciary.
Cuba passed a foreign investment law earlier this year, and the relaxation of some - very few - restrictions on travel and commerce between the U.S. and Cuba, coupled with the resumption of diplomatic ties as perhaps a prelude to dropping the embargo, has brought the law back to the consciousness of those in the investment sector.
The law's effect has been to draw interest from industrialized countries like Germany to potentially new streams of investment, and as a survey of the law revealed, it has much to recommend it.
Minister of State for Investment Khaalis Rolle told Guardian Business recently that while Cuba had passed the law, he still felt that from an investment standpoint "[The Bahamas has] the current advantage, because we do have a stable track record of investment".
Nonetheless, Rolle pointed out that there are still areas in which Cuba can improve its new law, and that The Bahamas as a competing jurisdiction must still be concerned about the eventual impact of that law, and must determine how to mitigate and minimize that impact.
Firstly, the new law opens up investment in all sectors of Cuba's economy, including utilities, administrative concessions, real estate (purchase, sale and leasing of houses and offices), hotel management and professional services, while abolishing duty-free zones and industrial parks. The law also provides for investments in stocks and other securities or bonds, public or private, that do not fit the definition of direct investment.
Only three forms of foreign investment are allowed: joint venture, international economic association contract or totally foreign capital company. The international economic association contracts cover contracts for hotel, production or service management and contracts for the provision of professional services.
The law cuts tax on profits from 30 percent to 15 percent for most industries and eliminates the prior 25 percent tax on labor costs. The law also allows 100 percent foreign ownership, which, though previously legal, was never allowed in practice, and investors in joint ventures get an eight-year exemption from all taxes on profits, and investments in real estate can be in private housing.
The law also provides for stricter environmental controls: individuals or corporations responsible for environmental damage will be required to reestablish the previous environmental situation, repair the damage or pay the corresponding indemnification, as appropriate.
In terms of guarantees, foreign investors may transfer abroad the net profits or dividends derived from their investments, as well as the proceeds resulting from the liquidation or sale of shares, in convertible currency free from taxes, withholding or deductions. Foreign temporary residents who render services to a joint venture, the parties to an international economic association contract or a totally foreign capital company are entitled to transfer abroad 66 percent of their earned income.
Dealing with labor force concerns, the new law provides for the labor force needed by joint ventures and fully owned companies to be selected and provided by a government employment agency, which charges a fee for such services and pays the employee's salary in Cuban pesos (CUP) while charging the investors in convertible currency (CUC). This salary is negotiated with the foreign investor on the basis of the minimum pay equivalent to the national average salary, which currently amounts to 456.00 CUP (1 CUC=25 CUP; 1 CUC=$1).
No foreign investor can hire labor directly except for certain top management or technical positions to be held by nonpermanent residents, which is provided for explicitly in the authorization.
One of the areas the new law is particularly of note is the establishment of a special taxation system. Exemptions abound.
Joint ventures and national and foreign investors who are parties to an international economic association contract are subject to tax obligations and exemptions, including: exemption from payment of income taxes on net profits for business for foreign investors, exemption from payment of profits taxes during eight years following the establishment of the enterprise (which period may be extended by the Council of Ministers).
Other exemptions include an exemption from payment of net profits taxes and other taxes authorized by the relevant authority for reinvestment in the country, exemption from payment of wholesale and service taxes during the first year of operation of the investment, exemption from payment of taxes for the sales of goods and services in the case of contracts for hotel, production and service management and for the provision of professional services and exemption from payment of labor taxes.
Investors are also exempt - in certain circumstances - from paying customs taxes (tariffs) for the importation of equipment, machinery and other assets during the investment process, according to provisions established by the Ministry of Finance and Prices.
Upon my return from vacation in early November, I read in the news that Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder had agreed for The Bahamas to accept an automatic exchange of information measure with all world governments.
The minister was being complimented for taking an option that would not be implemented until 2018. Whether such an agreement comes into effect or not it is not good news and continues to show The Bahamas yielding to outside forces. In this case, the OECD but the acceptance seems to have been without any apparent resistance or fight back or even any consultation with the banking sector.
I find such a position unacceptable especially when it goes against a core human right - i.e. a person's universal right to confidentiality. Not all people who seek confidentiality are criminals or undesirables.
These external pressures are motivated by socialist countries who feed on more and more taxation that is needed to sway votes. Such countries make out that persons having offshore accounts/structures etc., are avoiding domestic taxes in the billions. Such stories invariably use mouth-watering claims without being called for any substantiation or justification.
If one believes that automatic exchange of information will come about then The Bahamas might as well forget about maintaining its position as a financial centre, which in turn will see more unemployment of skilled Bahamians. This is not just theory as it can be witnessed first-hand - (i) UBS Bank and Royal Bank of Canada Private Wealth withdrawing from the Bahamas. Other smaller financial institutions have already departed; (ii) CIBC - FirstCaribbean International Bank re-organizing their Bahamian presence by transferring certain sectors to other Island nations in the Caribbean. Voices need to be raised and heard other than just single-handed efforts.
Widening the tax net
Further to the above, there is also another move being promoted, principally but not solely by the United Kingdom, which is to make the ownership of companies and the beneficiaries of trusts known to the general public. Again the rationale behind such a move is to widen the tax net on all these "unknown" persons who are not paying their share of taxes.
As this requirement also goes against the core value of confidentiality, it is being challenged. I am pleased to report that Bermuda and the Cayman Islands have thus far refused to accept this directive. The Bahamas has not yet declared its position on this issue but it would have been nice to have seen the country as one of the leaders in the move to say "No".
One cannot write an article such as this and exclude the "hot" topic of value-Added Tax (VAT). There have been several articles on this topic and as such there is little for me to add.
Without doubt however the people on whom this will prove to be the greatest burden are the poorest amongst us. The government has been warned of such consequences and it has said on a couple of occasions that it will consider the establishment of a "safety net".
Should this happen then it will have two consequences, namely (i) that the VAT monies collected will not be used to reduce the country's debt, which was the primary reason for its introduction; and (ii) any government "safety-net" invariably means creating a cesspit of corruption, as per historical evidence. Will the public stand-up and show its dissent? Based on the above, probably not.
Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC)
Another government agency that has an atrocious corporate governance record and financial record. The cost of electricity is unbelievably and unrealistically high - why does the public accept this situation?
There have been signs of cracks within the government relative to differences over the corporation's practices. We were told over 12 months ago that BEC was to be re-structured and sold to third parties. Did it happen? No.
As a result the cost of fuel and distribution continues to be ripe for exploitation. Employee benefits without any employee contribution continue to exist as a unique situation that must only exist in the Bahamas - it is certainly neither a world standard nor is it a best-business-practice.
Similarly there is exploitation, allowing employees to work at overtime rates as opposed to regular rates of pay. There is no policy or conception for hedging one of the corporation's highest cost ingredients - fuel. Much of the fuel if not all is supplied by a company where one of whose shareholders is a prominent government supporter.
Why does the general public accept such exploitation? Recently we have learned of bribe money being paid to a Bahamian in order for a foreign company to obtain a contract for new generators. Will this claim be independently investigated? If such an investigation is undertaken will the public learn of the findings? The answer is invariably "No" and the public will accept it.
This government agency has cost the country millions of dollars every year since its inception. Is there a general public outcry requesting details of the benefits of continuing with the airline?
Are the employees grateful to be working for the company? It would appear not in view of the pilot's sick-out over the peak Christmas period. It is reported that this action resulted in a costs to the government exceeding a million dollars - but still no public outcry.
I could continue but I am not certain that it will add any further benefit. It is now 2015 and as such one frequently makes New Year resolutions. It is my wish that the Bahamian public will be motivated to loudly and clearly say "enough-is-enough".
One person alone cannot achieve this goal yet we seriously need to motivate all the public and become patriotic in order to save our country either from becoming bankrupt like Greece or having the Bahamian dollar devalued. Quite simply we cannot continue in a like manner without a disastrous outcome.
Let's all stand up and be counted.
- Fair and balanced
Sponsorship for the 2015 Bahamas National High School Track and Field Championships got off to a great start when well-known Olympic gold medalist Sir Durward Knowles presented the National Sports Authority (NSA) with a check, showing his support.
The Government of The Bahamas is now responsible for the annual high school classic, and Senator Greg Burrows heads a committee that works in conjunction with the NSA to host this event at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) has sanctioned the event and all parties are devoted to making this year's classic the best ever in Bahamian history.
"We're trying to get back to 'school pride' that we had back in the 1960s and 70s," said Senator Burrows. "Back then the young people didn't have as much distraction as they do now, with the smart phones, I-pad and so on, so our work is to get them back into their school activities and allow them to understand what 'school pride' is once again. We know that this will develop into 'national pride' and give us more compassion for our country."
Sir Durward has helped just about all sporting disciplines in this country, especially sailing. He has a passion for athletics. Both he and the late Thomas A. Robinson were the stars for The Bahamas at the Olympics 51 years ago. The National High School Track and Field Championship is still special to Sir Durward, and he wanted to do what he could to help.
"I know that there are challenges in getting the Family Island schools to Nassau for this event and accommodations, so I want to do what I can to help alleviate that burden," said Sir Durward. "I know they need much more, but hopefully my gesture will encourage others to want to help this national event for our young people. After all, most of our olympic athletes come through these championships."
The National High School Track and Field Championships take place March 5-7 this year. The opening ceremony is set for March 4 at the national stadium and during that time, the NSA and the organizing committee will honor nine outstanding principals and coaches who have made a difference over the many years to the success of this event. In addition, some key people will be recognized.
The organizing committee thanks Scotiabank for its many years of sponsorship of these nationals. Many outstanding athletes came out of the national high school championship. A number of them went on to star in the CARIFTA Games and made national headlines. This year, big things are expected from newcomers.
This year almost all of the high schools in The Bahamas are expected to participate.
A look at the national budget and debt over the decades reveals that spending and borrowing have grown exponentially. The country is in this mess because of both political parties, not just one or the other, so there is no point in casting blame. The country needs solutions.
With the national debt now over $6 billion, and off line liabilities estimated at $2 billion (or more), the country's debt to GDP ratio is close enough to 100 percent. If a 40 percent debt to GDP ratio was considered the correct target level 10 years ago by the political powers, what can and must be done?
First of all, the right thinking members of Parliament and senators from both political institutions must get together and force the accountability of the government.
Yes, this will upset the powers that be, but what are they going to do, fire all of them and go to a general election? Doubtful.
So here are a few ideas:
1. The government should move to accrual based accounting like businesses to get a more accurate picture of the damage that has been done and continues without clearly defined accounting.
2. Cut the budget by five percent each year for the next five years. Sure, some departments might need an increase, so others might have to be cut more than 5 percent for an overall decrease in spending. A good place to start is delegations. Should we not attend all these international conferences virtually instead of spending thousands upon thousands of dollars in airfare, hotel, per diems and more?
3. Sell "assets" like Bahamasair, the stadium etc for $1. In other words, shut them down or give them away. The country simply cannot afford the maintenance and ongoing losses.
Most importantly, those MPs and senators who agree privately that steps like this need to be taken, must find the courage to step out from the shadows of going along to get along, to set the country on a more sensible fiscal and economic course.
So, will The Bahamas be found wanting as 2015 comes to a close or will the resolve be summoned up to begin to repair the damage that has occurred as a result of not considering the long term effects of bad public policy?
- The Nassau Institute