April 03, 2012
Remarks Fox Hill Constituency Headquarters Opening Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham Party Leader 31 March 2012
Fox Hill; Bahamians everywhere; FNMs:
Before I say anything else, I wish to address some matters related to City Markets. For the benefit of the 400 workers and the general public I will strictly limit my remarks to specific comments on what contributed significantly to the decline of that well-known supermarket chain.
City Meat Market was originally Bahamian owned. One of the early decisions of the PLP upon coming to office in 1967 was to approve the well-known Winn-Dixie chain of supermarkets in the United States to buy the food chain of stores.
It was also the PLP that approved the Barbados Shipping & Trading, along with a small prominent Bahamian private investor group, to buy the company back from Winn Dixie in 2006. The Barbadian company was subsequently acquired by the Trinidad-based firm Neal & Massey.
At the time of the sale to the Barbadian Group in 2006, 1,350 individual Bahamians and pension funds owned shares in City Markets. Many of these investors were company employees and small investors. Some were approaching retirement.
Up to this point the company had always been profitable. It carried all the top international quality food brands from North America and Europe and from such far flung Commonwealth countries as Australia and New Zealand.
City Market was considered a sound investment of “blue chip” quality. Indeed dividend payments by the Winn-Dixie had never been missed. Bahamians who owned shares felt secure that they were investing in a reputable company that would give them safe returns. They believed that the shares would provide for them in retirement and secure the future of their loved ones should they leave dependents at their death.
The company was a good corporate citizen. It was celebrated for the thousands of scholarships granted to Bahamian students to pursue university training abroad. At the time of the 2006 sale, the balance sheet had $14million in cash and average annual earnings over the previous 10 years were about $7.5 million.
In the second year of operations the new owners reported a net loss with negative cash flow. Thus began the endless spiral downwards which included the endless need for additional injections of cash.
The shares began to be traded Over-the-Counter. In 2002 they traded as high as $22.75 per share. It was in 2002 that the Christie Government came to office. Today the shares are not listed nor traded Over-the-Counter. You cannot give the shares away. Dividends have long since ceased. They were last paid in 2007. The company is insolvent. The shares are, in my opinion, worthless.
The foreign and there Bahamian co-shareholders paid a pretty penny for Bahamas Supermarkets Ltd. They subsequently had to inject many more millions before having to walk away from City Markets. They left in their wake widespread uncertainty.
I know that City Markets’ employees are all very concerned about their pension. We are told that your pensions are secure. Further we will do the necessary also to ensure that you are dealt with in full compliance with the law with regard to any severance pay you are entitled to receive.
It is a sad reality that hundreds of Bahamian shareholders lost their investment. And hundreds of Bahamian workers now have unstable employment and face an uncertain employment future.
It is at a minimum quite ironic that the same Christie who now says that he puts Bahamians First, in 2006 turned down a bid to purchase City Markets by a groups of Bahamians who at a minimum may have better understood that Bahamians consumers generally want brand names products and that Bahamians don’t change to buying unfamiliar generic goods quickly.
Whatever is the case, the basic matter is this. The Christie administration agreed to a purchase which resulted in the destruction of a longstanding supermarket chain that generations of Bahamians grew up with.
Bahamians must shudder at the thought of what potential disasters any new Christie government would bring to the country in terms of making decisions that would affect the livelihoods, shares, retirement savings and pension funds of Bahamians.
Even as the FNM has been building a Shareholding Society, the PLP has been dismantling it and encouraging Bahamians not to buy shares in a quality company like the Arawak Cay Port Development which will make profits for its shareholders, but rather to buy shares in City Markets or RND Theatres!
We have helped tens of thousands of Bahamians to become shareholders. The PLP is only interested in a few of themselves and their special friends owning shares. They don’t want a Shareholding Society. They only want a Shareholding Club made up of themselves and their cronies and special interests.
This is what they so greedily attempted to do through that phantom Bluewater Company. They wanted a Gold Rush to raid the cookie jar at BTC in order to line their pockets and stuff their bank accounts.
I will never stop saying it: Keep them out so they don’t sell you out!
Colour Red is on the move in Fox Hill. You know, when scary people walk past the grave yard at night, ‘cause they scared, they believe everybody scared! Red ain’t never, ever scared!
When you vote Fox Hill, I want you to lose your heart to a girl from the eastern part. Shonel Ferguson is the one for you. She’s on the Delivery Team not the Talking team.
Tonight, I wish to thank Dr. Jacinta Higgs and her husband Dwight Higgs for their hard work these past five years and over many years in Fox Hill and the country in general. I also thank her family for their support and encouragement.
I know that Dr. Higgs will continue to make significant contributions to national development, especially in the areas of education, the advancement of Bahamian women, and Bahamian culture.
Because I am in historic Fox Hill I wish to say something briefly about our proposed Heritage Tourism Initiative. First of all we must preserve our culture for ourselves. We should also proudly showcase our rich and diverse heritage to the world.
Through the Heritage Tourism Initiative we will significantly enhance the infrastructure and signage required to better preserve our culture and share it with visitors to our Bahamas.
In addition to current funding for heritage sites, our priority areas for the Heritage Tourism Initiative in New Providence are the historic City of Nassau, Bain Town, Grants Town, Adelaide, Gambier Village, and of course, Fox Hill.
We must also preserve the voices and the stories of our elders and older people as well as our living national heroes. Through the College of The Bahamas we will launch a public-private partnership called: Our Bahamian Stories as a part of The Oral History Project. This Oral History Project will save the voices of generations of Bahamian wisdom and folk stories. That project, as the Heritage Tourism Initiative will have important components in all of our Family Islands.
FNMs, Bahamians everywhere:
I report to you tonight that there is wave of Colour Red surging throughout the Family Islands. Grand Bahama is red, red, red. You better add two more reds to that for five seats.
Our base of support in New Providence is rock solid and holding firm. Day by day the momentum for Colour Red is surging from east to west and from north to south.
Night before last we were in Marathon with Heather Hunt. You can feel the groundswell here in the east. I know Marathon is here tonight. Let me here ‘ya.
Let me here ‘ya Yamacraw! St. Anne’s! Elizabeth! Montagu! Sea Breeze!
By the way, I hear the PLP been on R.M. Bailey Park for a meeting for Jerome Fitzgerald. You notice that the ad in the newspaper for Jerome’s meeting never mentioned Perry and Brave by name. Eh, eh! You think Jerome up to something? Time will tell. He was one of them trying to buy City Markets when they allowed it to be purchased by the foreign group.
I would have thought the PLP would have been embarrassed to hold a rally at a school park. After all, they didn’t build a single school in five years. Your Delivery Team built three new schools in just this term alone. Next term we will build new gymnasiums for a number of schools here in New Providence.
Anyway, I’m delighted that those who went to the PLP event were able to get in and out of the area on those five new lanes and brand new roads going in every direction.
Some people comical, you know. They like cruising up and down on all of these things called roads that we built. They even called them Gold Roads! Then they cuss us out for the very thing they enjoying so much. But like Howard Johnson from Central and South Eleuthera keeps saying: ‘Da roads them looking pretty.
You just know that some of them PLPs, who cuss us in public for all these new roads, must say in their minds, after gliding on these new roads: Papa ‘dem really do good.
Market Street from Duke Street to Wulff Road is now open. And tomorrow you’ll be able to drive along Prince Charles Drive from Soldier to Fox Hill Road.
No matter, whether you going back and forth to R.M. Bailey Park from here in the east, or in the west, north or south, our new First World roads will get you there with ease.
Yes, the road works have taken time. But now we can see the bigger picture and feel the smoother ride. So instead of listening to the PLP’s fool talk, keep the great Bob Marley in mind: “Don’t let them fool ya. Or even try to school ya! Oh, no! We’ve got a mind of our own.”
I want to say a special word to all of those who are thinking of voting PLP mostly because they have done so for a number of years. I know that in your heart of hearts quite a number of you believe that this Government provided much better leadership than Christie’s. I ask for your support this election.
You don’t have to tell anybody how you voted. Come to Papa. Your Papa ain’t here no more and this new man just ain’t got it! If you like the modernization of the country you’ve seen so far, give us five more years. Come with me. You ain’t seen ‘nuttin yet. We will also help to grow the economy and will relentlessly assault the criminals among us.
To those uncertain about voting for Christie:
On Election Day, vote for the kind of steady and decisive leadership the country needs at this time.
On behalf of the FNM I ask for your support in helping the country to keep moving forward. We cannot afford five years of delay and indecision in the midst of the serious challenges the country faces. I will deliver for all Bahamians.
We are building a whole new country. And, we are creating a new, New Providence. The word providence has two meanings. One of the meanings is: “The wisdom, care and guidance” provided by God, and of which we are all in need.
There is another meaning of providence. It’s a meaning which has to do about the stewardship we bring to God’s creation, and to the service of the Bahamian people.
In this sense, providence is about the good judgment and good governance and management of the people’s business. It is about being a good steward and not burying our talents. It is also about foresight and looking down the road in order to prepare for tomorrow.
We believe that we have been faithful stewards. We have worked hard. We have offered you clean and accountable government. We must all remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King used to talk about those who failed to act because they were held back by the paralysis of analysis.
You have to study and analyze things before acting. But then you must act. This is still Perry’s problem today. He will talk everything to death. But, he simply will not lead. He is afraid of making decisions. This is why his list of non-accomplishments is vastly longer than his accomplishments. This is why he never got around to building a new National Stadium. He’s still thinking about it just like he’s thinking about all of the other things he never did.
In life, delay and late-again, often means never!
Even out of government my friend Perry just would not act. I asked him about his Party’s proposed changes to election laws. It took him many, many months and repeated requests before we got a reply. And that came only at the last hour. When just about every MP was using their MP’s allowance to improve things in their constituency, Christie was still dreaming years later, and like they said, the money went back into the Treasury. You don’t think Farm Road needed something? Stop dreaming Perry! Do something!
You simply cannot run a country if all you do is talk and dream for eternity.
Bahamians everywhere; FNMs:
I advise those of you who have not registered to vote to do so immediately! To those who have not picked up their Voters Card, I advise you to do so as soon as possible. This is in the event that there are changes that need to be made in terms of where you will be voting in terms of Constituency and Polling Station or other corrections.
We don’t want any confusion come Election Day. The devil is not only in the details. The Devil also likes confusion and chaos. We want to make sure that the Devil has as little chance as possible for mischief on Election Day.
And we want to make sure that the usual mischief-makers have as little chance as possible to tempt the Devil. But even if some of them manage to tempt the Devil, they better not try temp fate. If they do so and get catch, they may have to spend some time right up the road as guests of you know where.
The Parliamentary Registration Department has done an enormous amount of work to regularize or clean up the Voter Register. It is undoubtedly a more well-ordered Register than in 2007 when our predecessors allowed for all manner of flaws.
We have invited observers from overseas to monitor the 2012 general election. This is the first time in the history of an independent Bahamas that we have issued such an invitation. We have nothing to hide. The world is welcome to observe firsthand our electoral process.
We will not have a repeat of certain individuals printing ballots in their shops. We will be on special alert for floating ballots and related irregularities. Fox Hill: From painful experience, some of you know of which I speak. In case you don’t remember, I saw one of the culprits on TV the other night down in North Andros - we know what job he does. He shows up all the time.
Bahamians everywhere; FNMs; Fox Hill:
Sadly, this year, the world lost the voice of Whitney Houston. She had the voice of an angel. When she died so tragically I remembered a song she sang so beautifully. Most of us remember a special verse from one of her most memorable songs:
“I believe the children are our future Teach them well and let them lead the way Show them all the beauty they possess inside Give them a sense of pride to make it easier Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be.”
To me, this verse is the theme for the kind of Bahamas so many of us believe in. It is the kind of Bahamas we have worked for as parents, teachers, public servants, ministers of the Gospel, political leaders, and volunteers or just as citizens of the country we love and call home.
I want every Bahamian child, including those growing up poor as I did, to have the opportunity to use their God-given talents to make a good and full life for themselves. I also want our Bahamas to afford them the opportunity to give back in terms of being productive citizens.
This is why we are fostering an Opportunity Society. It is a society that goes beyond the boundaries of party, race or creed. It is a society where our children can grow up safe. This is why we must defeat the criminal class that seeks to rob us of our lives and our way of life. It is why we are waging an unceasing fight on every front in the battle against crime and its causes.
The Opportunity Society we are securing is one in which our children and young people have access to decent schools and a quality education. This is why we continue to build new schools and refurbished others. It is also why we have launched a ten-year education plan. It is why we granted $25 million dollars in scholarships this term alone at COB as compared to the $5 million dollars given by our opponents.
The Opportunity Society we are creating is revolutionizing health care in The Bahamas from a landmark prescription drug benefit to the most advanced health care facilities in this region to National Catastrophic Health Insurance in our next term.
The Opportunity Society is one in which all Bahamians have access to jobs, economic opportunities and greater ownership of our economy. We seek to do the things Government must do. But we seek also to facilitate the things best left to private initiative and private enterprise.
To help build this Opportunity Society, I am asking Fox Hill to send one of its own to the House of Assembly.
Shonel Ferguson is a Fox Hill gal through and through. She has deep roots in Fox Hill. She schooled right here at the then Sandilands All Age School, then at L. W. Young and St. Anne’s. She has both a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in business. She is a successful businesswoman.
Of course we all know Shonel as a star athlete. Over the years she has represented The Bahamas with pride and distinction on the world stage. She will be an important part of our Delivery Team in terms of sports, athletics and youth development. Shonel is also very community-minded. A faithful Methodist she has volunteered her time as a coach and worked with Junior Achievement. I am happy to have another Fox Hillian on our team. We intend to win Fox Hill with a Fox Hill gal just as we’ve done twice before.
Fox Hill; Bahamians everywhere; FNMs: The change of government in 1992 helped to rescue our country from an abyss of lawlessness. The first FNM Government had the monumental task of working to restore the good name of The Bahamas among the nations of the world. Yet, the more deep-seated challenges we continue to face are the far-reaching effects of that widespread drug trafficking and gangsterism of the 70s and 80s brought on by the Gold Rush of illicit drug trafficking.
Among the casualties of that period were some of our sons and daughters who became addicted to the ill-gotten gains of that trade. Tragically, others became addicted to drugs like crack cocaine which ravaged their minds and their bodies as well as their dreams and potential.
Yet others became addicted to the almighty dollar and to easy money. Rampant materialism laid waste to long-held values. Family life suffered as too many parents and even grandparents traded traditional values for new satellite dishes, fancy cars and expensive jewelry. Those were the Gold Rush days that destroyed many lives. When many of our young people looked to their leaders in church, state and society, they got mixed messages. They were told to be their brothers’ and sisters’ keepers even as prominent people aided and abetted a drug culture which poisoned the bodies and values of many of their brothers and sisters.
They watched as the words “In God We Trust” became a plea for ill-gotten US dollars rather than a genuine statement of faith and morals. The erosion of certain positive values and the adoption of poisonous mindsets those relatively few decades ago gave rise to much of the criminal culture and the toleration of this culture that we are experiencing today.
The erosion of values such as restraint, respect and responsibility, and the adoption of grabaliciousness and greed or getting something for nothing and getting over became widespread. These were the Gold Rush days. Keep the gold rush out.
The ravaging storm of rampant lawlessness of those lost decades spawned a culture of crime and violence that has revisited us in succeeding decades. Some wiser heads at the time warned us of the difficulty of recovering from that dark period.
The downward spiral of that culture of criminal violence gained momentum ever since, with ever more lethal instruments of violence from fists to knives to guns.
Today, in addition to a more entrenched culture of criminal violence, this FNM Government continues to urgently address a gun culture. Arming that culture is ready access to all manner of illegal weapons smuggled into The Bahamas.
The cultures of criminality and guns joined hands beginning in the 1980s. Combined, they created a criminal culture of repeat offenders and would-be-offenders as well as just plain thugs willing to solve disputes through firepower and bullets. The results are always terrifying, often deadly.
We have measured the violent results in medical records from Emergency and Trauma, record murder counts, and tragically short obituaries which record the brief and violent lives of mostly young men. Instead of leaving behind a life-affirming legacy, these young men leave behind grieving parents, siblings and infant children.
My Government has not stinted with the resources required to upgrade the country’s public infrastructure. Likewise we have invested extraordinary amounts to upgrade the effectiveness of the police and the capacity of the criminal justice system to beat back the scourge of crime.
Bahamians everywhere; FNMs:
I will have an Easter Greeting next week. We will suspend our campaign Wednesday coming.
Monday after next will be one of the biggest Family Fun Days in the history of The Bahamas. There will be so much Red Splash across The Bahamas that the satellites in space might pick up all this Colour Red.
Whatever beach you go to Easter Monday, I remind you again to keep the children safe. Let us celebrate with the spirit of joy and hope that is the meaning of Easter. Let us do so peacefully and orderly.
After Easter Monday Colour Red will be in Garden Hills, Seabreeze and Cat Island. And after that, Colour Red will be in North Abaco.
Leave them Gold Rush people to they self.
FNMs: Be not provoked by yellow mellow. Colour Red is on the move!
Fox Hill: FNMs:
Bahamians Everywhere: When Election Day comes I ask you to vote for Shonel Ferguson; to vote for me; to vote FNM.
We have the better record in health care and education! We have the better team to deliver clean and transparent government! We have the better vision for jobs and economic recovery! We have the better programmes and policies for developing our children and young people! We most definitely have the better leadership to fight crime and bring greater peace to the land! Good Night and God Bless our Bahamas!