Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe yesterday said he expects the Progressive Liberal Party to win the next election, asserting that the party is “in the best position we’ve ever been in.”
His comments to The Tribune came as he downplayed fears from Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller that a failure to jumpstart Baha Mar could hurt the Christie administration’s chances at the polls next year.
However, the West Grand Bahama and Bimini MP conceded that the Christie administration must “continue to do its work” and do more to “connect with our base” and the wider voting public.
On the issue of Baha Mar, Mr Wilchcombe shot down the line of thinking that a failure to open the beleaguered Cable Beach resort would automatically translate to a “condemnation” of the Christie administration, as he submitted that there are “many issues that will determine whether you win or whether you’ll lose”.
Last Thursday, Mr Miller implored senior PLP members to do all they can to jumpstart the stalled Baha Mar project, suggesting that without it the party could be entering the 2017 general election as “lame ducks”.
Characterising the Baha Mar debacle as the “rope that might end it all for us,” Mr Miller told The Tribune that “every negative factor known to this country has merged into one zenith” and as a result, the PLP has to prove to voters that it has the necessary plans to “right the ship.”
And when asked his level of confidence heading into the upcoming general election, Mr Miller said he was “somewhat uneasy.” He predicted that the 2017 election would be the “toughest” in the history of the country.
“The PLP’s victory in the next election isn’t only predicated on that (Baha Mar),” Mr Wilchcombe said in response yesterday. “It’s not going to cause a condemnation of the PLP.
“I think Mr Miller is saying that the general perception would be that it’s a failure in the country because of that single project. I think Mr Miller is speaking to perception. The reality about it all is when we explain to the Bahamian people all that has happened, all that we’ve been able to do, while you’ll have those particularly the opposition that will argue that because everyday they’re looking for something to argue on.
“...Without question people would look at it and put it in that category. We’re aware of that and I think Mr Miller knows that, that without question people would say immediately that represents failure. But in the true context of governance, no. The fact is we’ve been governing and we’ve been doing and holding the country, doing what we have to do, coming from difficult situations, fighting our way through the criticisms, fighting through the ratings, fighting through everything to get our country back and doing difficult things,” Mr Wilchcombe said.
When asked if he felt the Christie administration would emerge victorious in the upcoming general election, Mr Wilchcombe said: “I think the PLP must continue to do its work. I’m expecting the PLP to win the next election, but it’s going to be predicated on a couple of things. First is whatever we erred in we have to be honest with the Bahamian people. The second is we have to be able to show the Bahamian people what we did and it has to be able to show how it impacted their lives and how their lives improved as a result.
“The third thing we have to do is we have to demonstrate we know where we want to take the country, that we’re a unified body focused with a plan of action of where we want it to go. And the fourth thing we have to do is ensure the Bahamian people that the true moral values of our country will be maintained, and that the peace and harmony of a our country we’re working on regaining and sustaining, and that our country has all the promise of being one of the greatest countries in the entire world.”
He added: “It’s many issues that will determine whether you win or whether you’ll lose, but if you weigh the possibilities I think we’re in the best position we’ve ever been in.”
Recently in the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed that two firms were shortlisted as options to acquire the West Bay Street resort, but didn’t name the groups.
Mr Christie would only say the final decision would be up to the receiver managers, confirming they were in Beijing, China last month negotiating a contract to remobilise and complete the project as soon as possible.
Baha Mar was first expected to open in December 2014 but has faced numerous setbacks.