WITH only three months away from a general election there is no unified opposition to challenge and defeat a government that does not deserve another five years in power. Already on the brink of disaster, five more years of PLP-ism will be the death knell of a Bahamas that we once knew.
Surprisingly, unlike the opposition, the PLP has succeeded in silencing dissent in its own ranks. They are now presenting promises that have already failed with the assurance that if given a second chance all will be well in the end. Although Bahamians always seem to fall for the bait when a good party is in the air, this time government cannot hide from the reality of the moment — failure. Crime is out of control despite the PLP’s promise that if they won the 2012 election, they had all the ingredients to remove the criminals. Again despite dangling fancy figures before our eyes, they are trying to convince the populace that jobs have been created. And while there is talk of more jobs our readers will learn in today’s edition of The Tribune that some 400 hotel workers will be jobless with the news that Memories resort in Grand Bahama will be closing. However, with a bloated civil service, we see government’s fall-back strategy of using the civil service to create jobs to ease growing unemployment. This is an age-old custom of politicians securing votes by creating jobs for their supporters at taxpayers’ expense. As far back as 1988 this was a major problem. PLP Chairman Senator Sean McWeeney at a PLP convention that year pointed out that the civil service had too many “dead branches” that needed to be brought down. This has always been a heavy burden on the Bahamian tax payer.
And in the House yesterday the spending of VAT - another heavy financial burden — was still a hot item for debate. East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest, was among those trying to trace the elusive VAT collection down the bottomless rabbit hole.
“The fact is that the public would know that since the government has come to office there has been an increase in the national debt to the tune of some $2bn,” said Mr Turnquest. “We also know that in excess of $1.3bn worth of VAT collections has been received by the Public Treasury. We were told initially that VAT would be used to pay down on the debt. How is it that $1.3bn in VAT could be collected, yet the debt has increased by some $2b?”
So many questions, but no satisfactory answers. While the PLP has succeeded in silencing all dissent among its members, the FNM has shattered a once vibrant party with never-ending squabbles. Egos are getting in the way of unity and the country is suffering.
For a moment, Bahamians rejoiced that the DNA and the FNM had at last formed a working partnership. It was the competition of the DNA, although winning no House seats in the 2012 election, that was blamed for the defeat of the FNM in that election. A sigh of relief was breathed when it was thought that by Mrs Loretta Butler Turner, having taken over the leadership of the FNM in the House and appointing Mr Branville McCartney of the DNA to the FNM seat in the Senate, had at least a working relationship with a former rival. We have now learned that this is not so. Mrs Butler-Turner’s belief that there was a coalition — the two parties retaining their separate identities, but working in unison — was not how DNA leader Branville McCartney saw the agreement. To him it was a chance for him to get back into parliament – apparently forgetting that he was occupying an FNM seat.
It seems that every faction of the FNM is fighting — one making decisions without telling the other - each seemingly going their own way without consultation.
Really their behaviour is not fair to this country.
It is now time for these adults to come to grips with their ambitions.
Sit down together – leaving the great “I am” outside the door — and for once think of what, as a united team, they can do for their island nation.
They should select candidates for their abilities — all friendships aside — and the contribution that they can make to their islands.
On Tuesday, January 24, The Tribune published a letter by Luther McDonald. We suggest that it be read and digested and acted upon. We agree that Bahamians deserve better than they are now getting.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” he wrote, “We need a “unity” government in which all sectors of the population can be represented. We need persons to serve not because of some claim to entitlement but because they have something to offer us. Who are not afraid to admit when they cannot do the job and are willing and able to surrender their positions should this be the case. We have too many people now in government who feel forced to compromise on principle because they cannot afford to lose their positions.
“I am not saying only rich people should serve but I do believe that no one should run who cannot afford to walk away on principle,” wrote Mr. McDonald. “Our earlier history abounds with people who though not rich took a principled stand even to their financial detriment. Carlton Francis is perhaps the foremost example of this,” he said.
He uses Brent Symonette as an example, although Mr Symonette is probably not interested, this is Mr McDonald’s assesment for Bahamians to consider.
“If you were to ask most of the intelligent and educated people in this country whether the best person to lead such a government was Brent Symonette the response would be fairly consistent. They would acknowledge that yes, he, a former Deputy Prime Minister is probably one of the savviest persons we have with the requisite experience in politics, government, business and law. He is intelligent and possesses keen judgment and intellect and a sense of compassion.
“He is financially independent and therefore less likely to be tempted by opportunities for personal gain in a leadership capacity. He has shown that he can and will walk away where principle and convention so dictate. He is probably best able to command the respect of the diverse talents (both black and white) this country has and desperately needs to come to the fore.
“Yet, these same educated and intelligent people will tell you, despite our supposed enlightenment and equality, he is white and the Bahamian people will never accept a white man especially one whose father led the old UBP regime. How horribly ironic that we eschew a competent, and arguably the best, candidate this country has to lead it, because of his colour. Is it 2017 or 1967? Was the Quiet Revolution for naught? Can we finally be true to our motto ‘Forward, Upward, Onward Together’?”