By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government has been called upon to apologise to the Bahamian people for trying to sell them the “far-fetched dream” that majority shares in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company have been reacquired.
The call came from DNA leader Branville McCarney, who spoke a day after Prime Minister Perry Christie announced that slightly less than two per cent of BTC had been transferred to a new foundation created to benefit Bahamians – a deal Mr Christie called a “win-win” situation for the government and the country.
“The Bahamian people remain with 49 per cent,” Mr McCartney emphasised, adding that those who say the government has reclaimed majority shares of BTC are “talking fool”.
He said: “If people believe they got majority shares, that just gives credence to the fact that our national average is a D average.
“Forty nine per cent is in no way the majority of ownership of BTC. We remain with the same amount of shares. When they went to the negotiating table, the Bahamian people had 49 per cent. When they came out from the negotiating table, the Bahamian people had 49 per cent.”
As for the notion that the government has indirectly regained majority shares for the Bahamian people through the establishment of the BTC Foundation, Mr McCartney said: “The trust foundation is not owned by the Bahamian people and the trust foundation is in relation to a subset of BTC’s profits going into this trust for charitable benefits.
“But BTC was giving from day one. BTC was perhaps one of the largest donors toward initiatives and groups and sponsors for a number of things. That has not changed.
“BTC owners still remain owners of BTC. And even if people say it’s even now, through both having 49 per cent of shares, BTC still has the controlling shares.
“They have management control so they can determine how the company is run. For example, how much is declared as a profit – they make that decision. So where does that put the Bahamian people? In the same position they were prior to them negotiating. They went in with 49, they come out with 49. Talking fool is a very serious thing.”
He said: “The DNA is demanding that the government, or BTC, share with the public the value of what has been given to charitable organisations in 2013 and the value of the two per cent promised.”
Mr McCartney said the government’s failure to reacquire majority shares in BTC reflects their failure to effectively address other national issues.
“We need to move on to deal with the crime situation, this VAT issue and other things,” he said, adding: “But if they deal with those issues the way they deal with BTC, and say they came out victorious, God help us. Many of their other initiatives have ended in complete and utter failure.
“Whether it’s the promise of 10,000 jobs; the mortgage relief plan that provided no relief to anyone; the gaming referendum debacle or the proposed economy destroying VAT plan, this government’s string of failures in less than two years is the only record breaking thing they’ve done, unmatched by any government in our past.”
“The government is searching for answers in the darkness, wasting time and taxpayer dollars on schemes that result in no wins for the Bahamian people. Crime worsens, unemployment rises and regrets soar, as admitted by Mr Christie, himself.
“Perhaps now Mr Christie can use his time and resources to plot rational plans to combat crime, create jobs, relieve homeowners and business owners, and explore reasonable tax alternatives. He owes taxpayers that much. As of this day, the Christie administration is known as the government that makes promises that they can not keep.”