OBVIOUSLY, the PLP government is floating on a planet of its own making — so far removed that they are not getting the message being sent them by the Bahamian people. While the government is talking taxation, the people have made it clear they want government to cut spending before they will be lured into a debate that they neither understand nor are prepared to consider.
Obviously tone deaf, Mr Christie brushed aside citizens’ pleas for spending cuts by announcing that government has engaged a team of experts from New Zealand to travel 8,220 miles to the Bahamas to explain VAT and how it should be implemented. This engagement is for January. This was quickly followed by a second announcement that a “delegation” will fly to South Africa — all at the expense of the Bahamian people – to attend a state memorial service for that country’s much revered leader, Nelson Mandela. We think that even Mr Mandela would frown on this one, especially in view of this country’s present financial condition.
In fact, the Christie delegation left for South Africa yesterday morning with Mr Mitchell, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, Sir Baltron Bethel, policy adviser, and “foreign service staff” — again failing to give the number of staff. Who are they trying to impress? The Christie government doesn’t seem to equate a growing public debt with government’s lavish spending.
Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell dismisses criticism of his travel schedule – which he has warned will take him out of the country for at least the next year – as an “idle” and “silly” debate. “Stupidity in its purest form,” he scoffs.
Mr Mitchell was at great pains to deny claims of certain expenditure, never saying what the actual expenditure in fact was, concluding that everything was “within budget”.
Mr Christie also went to great lengths to explain his and his delegations’ attendance at CHOGM and their side trips, again concluding that everything was within budget. The Bahamian people now want to know what is the “budget” — remembering that this is the Bahamian people’s money that is being spent. Taxpayers also want to know the number of persons government is paying for on all of these trips.
Do these arrogant politicians have to be reminded that they are our elected “servants” and that this is our money that they are spending so liberally? Bahamian taxpayers are now demanding an accounting.
Mr Mitchell said he is convinced that when it comes to campaigns such as the much debated Value Added Tax (VAT), “consultation is not the way to go”.
“The government,” he advised Mr Christie, “has been elected to govern and should do so making the hard choices to move the country ahead, not looking left or right. If we do not act on this and so many other matters of national importance, the country will be set back and the programmes delayed to the detriment of the people of the country.”
It is true that decisions have to be made, but to do so by smothering the voice of the people is inviting disaster. It is true that Mr Christie is indecisive to a fault. But an obviously agitated Foreign Minister is recommending another extreme that will get both of them in trouble.
We suggest that both Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister read the comments on The Tribune’s website (Tribune242) if they want to understand public feeling today.
As we said in our Friday editorial, what is now happening reminds us of how out of touch the late Sir Lynden Pindling was in 1992. His arrogant belief that his followers were so enamoured with him that no matter what he did, they would never remove him from office, certainly sent him walking the gang plank. He got a rude awakening in August 1992 when his 25-year administration was sent packing by a resounding majority vote.
Mr Christie was in the same baffled condition in 2007 when he was removed from office after one term.
In an interview three days after the 1992 election, Sir Lynden admitted: “We knew people were hurting, we knew that homes were being sold, we knew that parents were taking kids out of school. We didn’t think that this would have affected them so dramatically in determining what they would do during the election.”
Still loath to admit the truth, he arrogantly predicted: “The Free National Movement government is not likely to go the whole term — I think we may go to 2 1/2 to three years.”
In fact the FNM went ten years, followed by a weak Christie government that at the end of one term were removed to give the FNM another term. Last year, brought down by an international recession and wild promises that it was obvious that the PLP could not deliver, the PLP was swept back into power.
So far, they seem so befuddled that they are stumbling forward making serious political errors.
However, their spending sprees, if they don’t heed the warnings are going to be their undoing.