ON September 13, 1992, former prime minister Hubert Ingraham, in announcing his first government boards, said he was breaking a 24-year PLP tradition of giving the chairmanship of public utilities to members of parliament.
And he gave his reasons. In the appointment of boards, he said, his government planned to harness the expertise available to it in society in order to enhance the efficiency and productivity of the agencies, and therefore, impact on costs to the consumer.
Another objective, he said, was to reduce the dependence of agencies on the government for subsidies and eventually eliminate the need for tax dollars to be diverted from the Public Treasury to public corporations. These corporations, he said, should be self-sustaining.
He wanted to reduce the number of purely political appointments to boards and did not want active politicians to be chairmen.
This habit, he said, resulted in a patronage system characterised by losses and jobs being awarded “on the basis of who you know and who you support politically rather than on what you know and the need for services,” Mr Ingraham said. Persons, he said, seeking employment should apply to the appropriate authority, and if jobs were available the applicants would get the jobs on merit. Remember that little word “merit”. Today it’s no longer politically correct. It’s very much who you know and how much the politicians are politically indebted to you — if only for your vote — as to whether you leap-frog to the top of the totem poll. Especially over the heads of many who are far more qualified and have more to offer their country.
Today, only seven months after being elected to govern, the Christie government is facilitating the nation’s slide into mediocrity.
Mr Ingraham emphasised that boards are appointed to oversee the execution of the government’s policies and not to engage in the day-to-day running of corporate affairs, which is left to the management team.
Earlier this year during the election campaign, which ushered in Mr Christie’s government for a second term, Mr Christie told the nation that he saw himself “as a bridge” from former prime minister Sir Lynden Pindling “to the new generation.”
If that is so, Mr Christie seems to be walking in the wrong direction — instead of forwards, he is moving backwards on that bridge and straight into the arms of the incompetent Pindling fold. We hope he is not taking the new generation with him, because in the end even Sir Lynden had regrets of his mistaken beliefs in a dream that the new generation neither understood, nor appreciated. In a revealing moment of reflection at a PLP convention in 1990 Sir Lynden despaired of the new generation. He had fed them too many false dreams. These have mushroomed into the ills with which today’s society is wrestling.
Mr Ingraham, having experienced the folly of the Pindling regime, tried to encourage Bahamians to rise above dependence on their politicians.
Today we see politicians being appointed to boards — even heading them. We are right back into the Pindling era of patronage – and, of course, the obnoxious PLP attitude of entitlement.
What, for example, was the rationale behind the appointment of Marco City MP Gregory Moss, resident in Freeport, as Chairman of the National Insurance Board, located in Nassau?
Did anyone explain to Mr Moss his areas of operation? From affidavits filed in the Supreme Court, he seems to have breezed in, kicked Director Cargill out of his executive office and taken over as Executive Chairman.
Obviously, the politicos wanted NIB Director Algernon Cargill out — it appears that Mr Cargill followed the rule book too closely. In many organisations such a person is not welcome, because those who want to slip and slide feel uncomfortable knowing a stern eye is watching their every move.
But Mr Cargill, who was told that he was to be terminated, is now on administrative leave until after the forensic audit of NIB’s books. Meanwhile, MP Moss ran into a stone wall of opposition in the person of Mr Cargill, who – according to the affidavits – blocked every move that was not beneficial to NIB. And where is Mr Moss? Why, what do you expect under this political regime – he is still Chairman of NIB, of course. Is he still going to be able to bend the staff to his will as he tried in his few short months at NIB?
And who has been appointed to replace Mr Cargill in the day-to-day operation of NIB? Is it going to be the same ones, who although — again according to the court-filed affidavits – showed a willingness to carry out Moss’ instructions, right or wrong?
Mr Christie was quoted as saying that he had a discussion with Labour Minister Sean Gibson and Mr Moss as to the road he should take in solving NIB’s problems. Are these also the persons assisting in the probe of the “serious allegations”?
According to Mr Christie the investigation into the allegations that have surfaced in the past week has already started. The public has a right to know who is conducting this audit. We think that a representative from the Opposition should be there.
Mr Christie says he is satisfied that the people’s investment at NIB is safe. Unfortunately, we can no longer rely on Mr Christie’s word.
Bahamians have a right to know who is in charge of the day-to-day operation at NIB. What is this person’s experience in this particular position? Why is it being claimed that in these few months of this government NIB collections are already about $6 million behind target? Have prosecutions for non-payment stopped?
This was another reason that the Cargill administration was unpopular. We understand that no matter who you were —PLP, FNM, high, or low — if you didn’t pay your NIB contributions you were before the courts. It is rumoured that today before prosecutions can be carried out, the list of those behind in their payments has to be scrutinised by the NIB Board. We do not know if this is true. But, if it is, we leave it to our readers to imagine the rest.
We believe that the situation at NIB is so serious that there should be a Commission of Inquiry. There should also be one for BEC.
If the recommendations of these inquiries were followed, the Commissions would probably pay for themselves and help shave something from the public debt.