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‘The S*** Has Hit The Fan’

Dionisio D'Agular

Dionisio D'Agular

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamian economy is paying the price for the Government’s “financial disasters” in attempting to run businesses, a leading executive blasting yesterday: “The s* has hit the fan.”

Dionisio D’Aguilar, the Superwash laundromat chain’s president, told Tribune Business that Immigration and other ‘emotive’ issues were distracting Bahamians from this nation’s core problems - the need to grow the economy and combat crime.

Suggesting that the two issues were linked, Mr D’Aguilar said the Bahamian taxpayer was constantly “paying” for the multi-million dollar annual losses being racked up by the likes of BEC, the Water & Sewerage Corporation, Bahamasair, ZNS and the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB).

Suggesting that this was all “coming home to roost” in the form of anemic economic growth and higher taxes (Value-Added Tax), Mr D’Aguilar said government ministers and politicians were constantly accusing the private sector of corruption.

While acknowledging that there were some ‘bad apples’, the former Bahamas Chamber of Commerce president told Tribune Business that the cost was “chicken feed”, and paled into insignificance when set against what successive governments - PLP and FNM - had cost the Bahamian people.

While issues such as web shop legalisation, Immigration and constitutional referendums were all worthy objectives, Mr D’Aguilar said: “Our economy is not growing, crime is out of control and there is no solution for education. That’s what it’s distracting from. They’re a major distraction from the core issue of getting the economy growing again.

“How do we get our economy moving? Some 25 per cent of all mortgage credit is in default, the economy is bumbling along, and we are being distracted by things that appeal to the base, but fundamentally do nothing to change the dynamic in our economy. That is what is worrying.”

Mr D’Aguilar’s comments will likely strike a chord with many business owners and private sector executives, already apprehensive about their 2015 prospects as a result of VAT and declining disposable incomes.

The Bahamian economy has consistently underperformed in recent years, its GDP numbers expanding by little over 1 per cent in both 2013 and 2014, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) describing its recovery from the 2008-2009 financial crisis as “painfully slow”.

While GDP growth rates are predicted to rise to over 2 per cent in both 2015 and 2016, this is a long way from the IMF’s prediction that the Bahamas needs an average annual 5.5 per cent growth rate until 2018 if all school leavers are to be absorbed into the workforce and existing unemployment slashed by 50 per cent.

“You cannot turn around this entire economy through Baha Mar,” Mr D’Aguilar warned. “I’m not sure if the Government are overwhelmed, can’t cope or can’t fathom the need for major structural change.

“We’re not growing. We’re bumbling along. Nothing is happening, our economy is failing to grow, and we’ve got this corresponding increase in crime.”

The former Chamber president said the increasing multi-million dollar losses being incurred by numerous public corporations and agencies were also sending a message that could not be clearer: The Bahamian government must get out of running businesses, and leave them to the private sector.

“What’s becoming clearly evident is that the Government of the Bahamas should move towards getting out of running anything,” Mr D’Aguilar told Tribune Business.

“If the Government of the Bahamas is running anything, it’s a financial and fiscal disaster. It’s incompetent at running anything properly.”

Slackness and inefficiencies were quick to “creep” in, he added, “and the Bahamian people keep on paying for it”.

“The Bahamian people have been called on to pay for the financial disaster at Bank of the Bahamas, they’ve been called on to pay for the financial disaster at BEC, and all these Corporations that are annual disasters,” Mr D’Aguilar told Tribune Business.

“All this is the product of failing to make the hard choices, and we the consumer end up paying for it.”

Citing PLP chairman, Bradley Roberts, as one politician who recently hit out at the private sector ‘corruption’, Mr D’Aguilar said: “What we cost the economy is chicken feed compared to what the political directorate has cost the taxpayer.

“There is no way that practice comes anywhere close to what the political directorate is costing the country with all these things. They’ve cost the taxpayers over and over the years.”

Added up, the figures are staggering. Bahamasair has cost the taxpayer more than $500 million - over half-a-billion- in its lifetime, while the Water & Sewerage Corporation, ZNS, the Development Bank and others eat up over $60 million in annual subsidies. Then there is BEC, which is losing up to $33 million annually.

Mr D’Aguilar suggested Bahamians only had themselves to blame for the Government’s profligacy, saying they had failed to hold successive administrations to account because they either did not care or felt it did not matter.

“It’s all coming home to roost,” he told Tribune Business. “It doesn’t make sense if you’re going to raise taxes to p* it all away, putting it into these corporations with no end in sight.”

While backing the Government’s decision to implement VAT, Mr D’Aguilar said the move needed to “go hand in hand with other tough decisions” that it was too scared to take for fear they would handicap their re-election prospects.

“It’s easier to maintain the status quo,” he added. “But the s* has hit the fan. We’re coming to the cliff now.

“What are we going to do? We have an economy in stress, a banking system haemorrhaging losses, and a crime rate that’s increasing because of the failing economy. And what are we going to do about education?

“We are still churning out thousands of poorly educated people every year. You can’t produce a workforce with people like that, who are uneducated and unsocialised.”

Mr D’Aguilar said all these factors were combining to produce a “deterioration in the quality of life” for Bahamians, with many too scared to go out at night and living in fear because of crime.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 3 years ago

Bahamians better wake up!! New tax but still being collected by customs. The same customs that has not been able to collect duty...

wake up Bahamas. You don't actually think the Ishmael Lightbourns and Lady Ps will start paying taxes do you? SAY NO TO VAT!!! Let that stupid legislation sit in limbo forever.

We do not need new taxes. We need actual governance...

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duppyVAT 3 years ago

I have been saying it for months

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ChaosObserver 3 years ago

Great news! Finally someone telling the truth that no one (bahamians, the government, etc) wants to hear or acknowledge. But "truth shall set you free".... I have to say that while there are a few smart exceptional individuals, such as Mr. D’Aguilar, (and even a few younger Bahamians coming up in business and even government) the majority are ignorant of the facts, could care less about the nation/people, are self serving and do not/can not see long term what is being done to this nation. We can only blame Bahamians for bringing/allowing politicians to be treated as demigods and not held accountable for their actions. A political process that is flawed and antiquated....all add up to a doomed country.

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Sickened 3 years ago

"The Bahamian government must get out of running businesses, and leave them to the private sector." I say the Bahamian Government must get out FULL STOP!! They are incompetent and incapable of running this country. Mr. D'Aguilar - I am voting for you for PM next time, even if you don't run.

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goodone 3 years ago

Cussing on the headlines!.. Yikes don't cry for God's help when your headlines are like that. Adults want teenagers to act accordingly and righteous, but they are no good example. Just wanted to point out

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DonAnthony 3 years ago

Get some perspective and wake up! Complaining about a partially blocked out cuss word in our current situation is like complaining that your bed is not made while your house is burning down. The middle class in this country is being taxed and squeezed to death. Corruption and incompetence and crime are DESTROYING our way life and I am angry too. We have way bigger problems than a little cuss word.

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TheMadHatter 3 years ago

Are you insane? It's you church people that are one of the MAIN problems in this country. We have MANY churches that are bigger than schools. No money for books and ceiling fans, and screens for the windows - but we have money to give pastors to buy jets with?

If EVERY SINGLE church in this country would simply disappear overnight TONIGHT - the Bahamas would SPRING into an upward movement right away.

Stupid churches !!!

But it's the people's choice to give their money to them. I guess Jesus didn't whip them hard enough when he chased them out.

TheMadHatter

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asiseeit 3 years ago

At last someone who speaks the TRUTH! The government of The Bahamas is an utter and complete FAILURE.

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asiseeit 3 years ago

Right now there is little hope of a bright future in The Bahamas. For the first time in my memory I am hearing teenagers talking about how they can not wait to get out of the Bahamas. They know there is no future here for them. It also saddens me to say that I agree with them and encourage them to get out. I would have never said this to my friends and family even ten years ago but because I want what is best for those I love, I must encourage them to find a better life. Sun, sea, and sand do not balance out the ill's of the Bahamas.

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TalRussell 3 years ago

Why play dumb smart now? Comrades I am not going to defend the lending policy mess over at Bank of Bahamaland as it is inexcusable. But at same time not only did it not start after PM Christie was returned back to power but where was Comrade Dionisio's outcry when other banks bad loans were being bailed out by government Bahamaland? In fact I could not be more shocked than to read the same people have been reappointed Board of Directors at BOB. What's next, pay themselves Christmas performances bonuses?

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Sickened 3 years ago

You can bet that bonuses will be paid before the Dec. 18 meeting.

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TalRussell 3 years ago

Comrade I am not presently or have I ever been Shareholder in BOB but why wouldn't shareholders be protesting in front BOB? I guess whether we like it or not, with or without share certificates as taxpayers, we are all BOB shareholders.

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duppyVAT 3 years ago

The shit has not just hit the fan ........... Perry and his goons are now smearing it all over our faces. What we need to do now is throw them ALL in those Over The Hill outside toilets ........ SMDH

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DEDDIE 3 years ago

There are three things that need to be done.

1) Cut the bloated public service by 50%. 2) Sell all the government corporation( BEC, Water and Sewage, Bahamasair) and get out of the Banking business(BOB and Mortgage corporation). 3) Place a ban on lawyers running for political office. They can't get their specialty right so how in the world will they get anything else right in this country.

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Sickened 3 years ago

I like your thinking. Only one point though on your number 2... we need to make sure there is a Freedom of Information Act in place before these corrupt politicians start selling off the government corporations, or else they will collect more money on the side than the people will get in the public treasury.

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John 3 years ago

So how high is the financial cliff? We have no mountains in the Bahamas...except for debt...mountains of it!

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John 2 years, 12 months ago

Do you hear the under mummers of the VAT commission? They are saying VAT can be used to determine weather you should be in business or not Do they really mean "(they) will use VAT to determine who stays in business?"

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digimagination 2 years, 12 months ago

Government? Well, you get what you vote for! And, on a side note, when religion rather than reason dictates legislation, do not expect logic with your law.

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