By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Opposition’s deputy leader yesterday challenged the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources to “substantiate” his claim that BAMSI has reduced the Bahamas’ food import bill by $100 million or otherwise resign.
K P Turnquest argued that the Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Institute appeared to have no strategic plan, with funds seemingly “going down a black hole”.
He was speaking after V Alfred Gray said that within the past year, BAMSI had supplied about $100 million worth of food consumed in the Bahamas. He also pledged that the price food import bill will be cut in half by 2021 because of BAMSI’s work.
“I listened with keen interest to the Minister of Agriculture’s proclamation and thought I must have misunderstood him,” Mr Turnquest said.
“The Minister must be called upon to substantiate his statement of $100 million in revenue from BAMSI, or resign and apologise to the Bahamian people if he is unable to do so.
“In my view, this is a blatant abuse of the Bahamian trust and should not continue to go unnoticed or unaddressed as a pattern is being perpetrated of continued misrepresentations and exaggerations from this Minister and his government,” he added.
“Coupled with the outrageous overrun at the Potters Cay project, the Minister is clearly prepared to mislead the public for his narrow political purpose or other benefit, and that cannot be allowed to stand by all responsible governments.”
Mr Turnquest argued that significant sums were being invested in BAMSI with no strategic plan, and warned that failure would result,aqs happened with Hatchet Bay Farms and BARTARD under previous PLP administrations.
“The truth is that BAMSI continues to be a disappointment in that the significant sums invested with no strategic plan seem to be going down a black hole, destined to result in failure under the current administration, like the Hatchet Bay Farms and BARTARD did under previous PLP administrations,” said Mr Turnquest.
“The Government must immediately put before the Bahamian people the full BAMSI plan and the costing of this programme, coupled with the natural tie-in for the future of the industry overall.”